Sloppy Black Caps rolled by Pakistan

Publish Date
Sunday, 21 January 2024, 8:00PM

By Kris Shannon

A sloppy Black Caps side have saved their worst for last, rolled for 92 in the fifth and final Twenty20 against Pakistan.

The hosts were chasing a clean sweep at Hagley Oval that seemed within their sights at the halfway mark, a restrictive bowling effort setting up a chase of 135.

But after beginning the series by smashing their fifth-highest total in T20s, they ended it by collapsing to their eighth-lowest in a 42-run defeat.

Pakistan’s 134-8 represented the lowest 20-over total any team had successfully defended against the Black Caps, who were bogged down on a pitch that offered plenty of turn.

Part-timer Iftikhar Ahmed snared 3-24, having previously taken four wickets in 53 T20Is, while fellow tweakers Mohammad Nawaz and Usama Mir added three more scalps.

“It was a disappointing chase today, but if you look at the series as a whole, it’s been very good,” said stand-in captain Mitchell Santner. “Everyone’s stepping up at different times, which is nice in terms of the squad aspect.”

“It’s been more an extended squad than what we’re used to, but guys have come in and done a role.”

New Zealand were without Kane Williamson (hamstring), Devon Conway (Covid) and Daryl Mitchell (rest) today, and no role player stepped up in the absence of that senior trio.

Rachin Ravindra saw two balls in his sole action of the series, while Tim Seifert and Will Young were unable to apply pressure on the top-order incumbents.

It was still an encouraging 10 days ahead of the T20 World Cup in June, with Santner unsure what to expect in the West Indies, where the Black Caps will initially be based in a tournament co-hosted by the United States.

“The first couple games we had some good scores on the board on some flat wickets,” he said. “But what we’re going to get in the West Indies could be very different to what we get here.”

Pakistan read the conditions well today, rewarded for batting on the same surface used for Friday’s fourth game, even though they were the first to struggle for fluency.

The tourists lost only one wicket in the opening overs but had Mark Chapman to thank for that, twice dropping Babar Azam from chances he should have held. Given the way the number three was approaching his innings, though, keeping him in the middle wasn’t a terrible outcome.

Azam (13 off 24) was scratchy as Pakistan staggered to 52-2 at the halfway mark, finally put out of his misery as Glenn Phillips took the catch and received a big hug from Chapman.

Fakhar Zaman (33 of 16) proved an exception in the match, smacking four sixes before Tim Southee (2-19) re-applied the brakes, with Ish Sodhi (2-22), Lockie Ferguson (2-24) and Matt Henry (2-30) combining to keep the total well within reach.

The Black Caps’ grasp, however, immediately slipped as both openers fell inside five overs.

Recalled for his first T20 since last September — and opening for the first time since his debut series in 2021 — Ravindra miscued Nawaz in the second over. Player of the series Finn Allen (22 off 19) soon followed, removed by an excellent low catch by teenage debutant Haseebullah Khan.

When Young gave Nawaz a second, the Black Caps were battling with 81 needed from 10 overs. And when Chapman’s rotten day was exacerbated by being run out for one, the chase was in the hands of Phillips.

Seifert (19 off 30) failed to atone for his part in the runout, while Santner came and went as the required rate rose above 10. Still 66 away, the hosts’ tail offered no assistance, Henry and Sodhi opting to attack Iftikhar but combining for two runs.

A 49-ball boundary drought was broken by successive blows from Phillips, but his dismissal the following over ended all hope.

The Black Caps can now rest before a two-test series against South Africa begins on February 4, with Santner confident today’s setback will not linger ahead of a three-game T20 battle with Australia later next month.

“With a bit of travel and going day off, play, day off, play, it can be quite fatiguing,” he said. “But today was effectively a dead rubber.”

This article was first published on and is republished here with permission

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