NZ v Pakistan, 2nd T20, Hamilton January 16, 2016

New Zealand hope for middle-order revival


Match facts

January 17, 2016
Start time 1900 local (0600 GMT)

Colin Munro has made 106 runs off 41 balls across his last two T20 innings © Getty Images

Big Picture

Sri Lanka and Pakistan have become used to rubbing each others' backs over the past few years, as their boards have buddied up and organised tours on an annual basis. In New Zealand, Sri Lanka have gone the extra mile to do Pakistan a favour: by scoring so few runs in the previous series that New Zealand did not need their middle order to defeat them. That middle order then turned up rusty against Pakistan, on Friday. Corey Anderson, Grant Elliott, Mitchell Santner and Luke Ronchi all fell for single figures, within 18 runs of each other. The hosts' chase never recovered.

It is the variety, quality and experience in Pakistan's attack that appears the greatest threat to New Zealand this series. In Wahab Riaz, Umar Gul and Mohammad Amir, the visitors have three sharp quicks, each with his own particular mode of attack. Imad Wasim has delivered tight left-arm spin since his arrival at the top level last year, while Shahid Afridi's legspin continues to prosper. They also have Shoaib Malik's part-time offbreaks, should any of their frontline options falter.

New Zealand were without their best bowler - Tim Southee - and most experienced batsman - Ross Taylor - for that first game, however, and Taylor's likely return in Hamilton will bolster that middle order. The openers will be eager regain their tone-setting form as well. Kane Williamson was made to seem human in that first match, having dropped a catch, run his partner out, and made a stalling start to his own innings. Mistakes from him have been both rare and rarely repeated.

Form guide

(last five matches, most recent first)
New Zealand: LWWWL
Pakistan: WLLLW

In the spotlight

In two Eden Park T20s, Colin Munro has struck 106 from 41 deliveries, sealing one game and keeping his team alive in the other. His clean striking has almost filled the firepower void left by Brendon McCullum's absence. Munro has one foot in the World T20 squad. Another decent innings in either of the two coming matches will ensure he is on that flight to India.

He may be approaching the end of his career, but Shahid Afridi is still the life of this Pakistan team's party, cracking cameos from the middle order, striking star-man poses, and occasionally engaging teammates in animated on-field discussions. He hit a rapid 23, took two wickets and claimed three catches on Friday. Seddon Park is not quite as small as the ground in Auckland, but its dimensions will still suit Afridi's manic hitting.

Team news

Taylor's return after a one-match rest will probably force one of the frontline spinners out of the side. With New Zealand having seen plenty of Mitchell Santner over their summer, maybe they will give Todd Astle another run. Mitchell McClenaghan may also play, depending on whether he has recovered from the niggle that kept him out on Friday.

New Zealand (probable): 1 Kane Williamson (capt.), 2 Martin Guptill, 3 Colin Munro 4 Corey Anderson, 5 Ross Taylor, 6 Grant Elliott, 7 Luke Ronchi (wk), 8 Todd Astle, 9 Adam Milne, 10 Matt Henry, 11 Trent Boult

Pakistan will probably keep an unchanged XI.

Pakistan (probable): 1 Mohammad Hafeez, 2 Ahmed Shehzad, 3 Sohaib Maqsood , 4 Shoaib Malik, 5 Umar Akmal, 6 Shahid Afridi (capt), 7 Imad Wasim, 8 Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), 9 Wahab Riaz, 10 Umar Gul, 11 Mohammad Amir

Pitch and conditions

Limited-overs pitches in Hamilton have generally been conducive to high scores. The weather is expected to remain fine for the evening, with temperatures in the low 20-degrees Celsius range.

Stats and trivia

  • Imad Wasim's economy rate after six T20s is 4.77.
  • New Zealand won the only other T20 these teams have played in Hamilton, in 2010.
  • Kane Williamson has led New Zealand in 10 T20s, with his team having won exactly half.


"We have a come across Afridi a few times in T20 and have a number of plans for him, but if you don't execute then he is able to take you apart with the bat. That cameo gave them some impetus. With the ball, we were able to take to him early but he came back really well. He is a fine cricketer and he has been around a while so he is a pretty wily campaigner."
New Zealand coach Mike Hesson on Shahid Afridi

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Bill on January 17, 2016, 6:35 GMT

    The real point i want to make about Kane Williamson is the danger of burnout & being overloaded. ABD is nearly ready to quit, and thats clearly from being to good for his own good! Dhoni came back from an exhauting past 3-4 years for the guy. Players viewed by most as world class and talisman like in their ability. Kane Williamson has had so much praise thrown his way, particularly in the last 3-6 months. Then through retirement he is forced to take on captaincy. If it were test captain or ODI captain, i could go along with that. But he plays all 3 formats, which really is a surprise to me. T20 can live without him. We have, for the first time enough players to cover all 11 spots. We can nearly name 2 squads now. Even when KW played, and opened, we lost. KW is not the answer in that format. He will get injured, and we will lose him where we REALLY need him, ODI, and more importantly test cricket. Give the guy a rest. I would say if its good for Afridi, then its bad for KW!

  • stefan on January 17, 2016, 5:40 GMT

    Someone please tell me Williamson isn't opening this game

  • Rock on January 17, 2016, 4:45 GMT

    My 11 for tonight since its gonna be short game (10-13 overs) cuz of rain as batting order. Shehzad, Hafeez, Afridi (hitter), Anwar Ali (Hitter), Malik, Imad, Rizwan (need him for outfield near boundaries) Sarfraz, Wahab, Amir, Gul......

  • Bill on January 17, 2016, 4:43 GMT

    This is the one format that we really struggle and have always done poorly at, truth be told. Since the very first game vs Aus @ Eden park NZ have never got into the groove although they always dress the part. Our ranking is poor and the loss to Pakistan only highlights our struggle with T20. Personally I don't care about losing T20 games as much as I do the other 2 formats, which just shows my age I guess. Where Kane bats in a match is really important. Temperamentally I think he is unsuited for T20. In no way is he to blame for the loss on Friday. Far from it. This guy has been built up to be the next great thing, and as usual, everybody throws every hope on the great saviour. It doesn't work like that. Ross Taylor should open for my mind. He has coasted in the middle for so long. Martin Crowe tried opening in ODIs. Why does he get the free pass? KW is the worst option, because, like Crowe when he gets out, the panic sets in. Kane is the wrong fit in T20. Sorry big little guy.

  • Pratigya Joshi on January 17, 2016, 4:40 GMT

    I think New Zealand should open with Guptill n Bronchi. Williamson opening the innings weakens the middle order n one should open with their attacking batsman during the powerplay

  • Muhammad on January 17, 2016, 4:35 GMT

    Warning! don't replace Santner i(the most economic bowler of last game) instead of Astle. Replace the bating position of Andersen with Ronchi coz Andersen can be a good finisher. Best of Luck to both evenly matched.

  • jared on January 17, 2016, 4:26 GMT

    While I would love us to beat Pakistan, I don't have as big a issue as some with the experimenting that nz is doing here before the world cup, I personally think Pakistan has the best attack in the world so this is the best preperation our guys can get and is the only chance to try some different things, I do think that ASTLE is the third best spin option but not sure you can play sodhi, ASTLE and santner in the same xi I'm of the opinion that we can't do that so maybe a bloke like worker could go to the world cup, not likely considering he's not in the squad but if he played with sodhi and santner along with Williamson that's 4 pretty handy spin options without losing any batting, absolute long shot but its what I'd do.

  • Rock on January 17, 2016, 3:54 GMT

    Weather looks bad at the moment. Looks like game called off or maximum 10 overs play per innings. Can anyone confirm this

  • Saq on January 17, 2016, 3:45 GMT

    @Bengal-Tigers: Thank you, my Indian brother from across the border. I said the same thing about PK's record against NZ, but I don't remember us ever being this weak, especially in ODI. I'm gonna predict a win for NZ for the next 2 T20's. Hope I have to eat my own words. Fingers crossed. @Fighted_kiwi: wholeheartedly agree with you, pal. You guys have had an excellent past 18 months, exciting doesn't do it justice. Although, sad that I can't see Bazz anymore, but not for this series. Lol. Good luck, gents.

  • shahid on January 17, 2016, 2:59 GMT

    I just wish Pakistan had Mohammad Irfan too in the squad. He would have been massive for NZ boys. Maqsood should be persisted with in all three matches. He is a good free flowing batsman when on song. He will ultimately do the job.

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