If one team is vastly superior to the other at each stage of a game, chances are that the upper hand will show, in any format. That was the rather obvious - yet harsh - lesson all those hoping for a more competitive T20I series between New Zealand and Pakistan were taught as New Zealand crushed Pakistan by seven wickets at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
Pakistan's top-order batting crumbled in the first ten overs as they were reduced to 38 for 6, with Tim Southee
, Seth Rance
and Mitchell Santner wreaking havoc. The forlorn 105 they put up was all too comfortable for New Zealand, who coasted home with 4.1 overs to spare despite the loss of two early wickets.
Pakistan were put into bat and found themselves under pressure straightaway. As skillful as New Zealand's bowling was, Pakistan did orchestrate their own their downfall in no small way.
Fakhar Zaman and Umar Amin were positive, but gifted their wickets by hoicking across the line. It was an ugly start, with the top four batsmen - all left handers - swiftly putting paid to the idea of left-handed batsmen being elegant. Zaman, Amin, Mohammad Nawaz and Haris Sohail all played abysmal shots, making it far too easy for a home side currently not dependent on anyone's largesse.
Southee, captaining in place of the injured Kane Williamson, led the attack with an accurate opening spell. He was well supported by Rance, whose extra burst of pace troubled Pakistan's top order. But the pick of the bowlers was Santner, who took two wickets to rip the heart out of Pakistan's middle order, and ensured there would be no rearguard.
Sarfraz Ahmed attempted a sweep to a flighted delivery well outside off, finding himself comically off balance outside the crease, with Glenn Phillips able to effect an easy stumping. Next ball, he tossed another one to Shadab, who edged it behind. Pakistan were now 38 for 6, headed towards another humiliation.
Hasan Ali came out and had a few swings, managing the art of T20 batting far better than all who came before him. He hit three of Pakistan's four sixes in a breezy 23, while Babar Azam, who top scored with 41, added a final-over flurry to take Pakistan to three figures.
New Zealand's chase was largely uneventful, though it did begin shakily. Martin Guptill and Phillips fell in the first four overs, and with the score reading 14 for 2 after four overs, Pakistan would have hoped to turn the game into a low-scoring scrap. However, Colin Munro
showed why he's the top-ranked T20I batsman, steadying the ship and putting to rest any thoughts of a Pakistan renaissance.
A 49-run partnership with Tom Bruce set the hosts back on course, before he and Ross Taylor knocked off the remaining 49 runs without the loss of another wicket. That number was a theme, with Munro himself left stranded on 49 as a wide ball denied him the chance to become just the third player to score four successive T20I half-centuries. Still, it was a minor disappointment compared to the worries Pakistan nurse at the moment.