NZME cricket writer Niall Anderson breaks down the Black Caps' loss to Pakistan by two runs in yesterday's T20.
The big moment the Black Caps missed
Thanks to the magical powers of hindsight, it turns out giving Mohammad Hafeez a second chance was a costly mistake. Scratching his way to 25 from 23 balls, Hafeez's innings could have been a net negative when he edged Colin Munro through to Tim Seifert. However, the sharp chance eluded Seifert, who was standing up to the stumps, and instead, Munro conceded 13 from what turned out to be his only over. Hafeez went on to add 20 from the next 12 balls, and gave Pakistan a crucial bridge to the middle order without exposing one of his team's few weaknesses – a lack of big-time power hitters.
The Black Caps were too conservative
Batsmen still value their wickets too intently in Twenty20 cricket, and that shone through in the Black Caps' run chase. After Colin Munro had set a brilliant platform, more of his colleagues needed to emulate his approach. Colin De Grandhomme would have done so if not for his unfortunate runout, and Kane Williamson probably did suit an anchoring role in these circumstances, but Ross Taylor and Corey Anderson's partnership was too slow, and took the visitors from an eminently winnable position to needing a last-over miracle.
Granted, the conditions made it hard to hit the sly Pakistan slower bowlers, but especially in situations where quick runs are required, an 8/9/10 combination of Adam Milne, Tim Southee and Ish Sodhi are more than capable, and middle-order batsmen should be willing to be more aggressive, trusting that the tail can deliver.
It may not have mattered in the end - the Pakistan bowlers were impressive – but in Twenty20, tail orders are often packed with powerful hitters, making wickets in hand horrendously overvalued.
The Black Caps are still a strong side
With all that said about missing a great opportunity for a notable win, the Black Caps immediately gave Pakistan more problems than Australia posed at any point during their recent series. Remember, this is a Pakistan side who have won 10 straight Twenty20 series', are masters in these conditions, and have lost just four of their last 31 games. No team is more dominant in a single format than they are in the shortest edition, so for the Black Caps to push them close despite the aforementioned problems is a strong effort. Add Trent Boult, Martin Guptill and Mitchell Santner to the mix, and New Zealand will still be one of the world's best short form sides for the foreseeable future.