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Shadab Khan rues Pakistan's poor powerplay batting, lauds 'very good' Jacob Duffy

Pakistan lost their top four in the first six overs, with debutant Duffy taking three of those wickets

Danyal Rasool
Danyal Rasool
Pakistan captain Shadab Khan bemoaned the loss of wickets in the powerplay, blaming the poor start for their defeat in the opening T20I of the three-match series. Pakistan suffered a horror start on what was considered such a good batting pitch that the visitors won the toss and opted to bat.
"If we lose the first powerplay it's difficult to come back," Shadab said. "We went down to 20 for 4 and then we did exceptionally well to get to where we did. But if you get into that position it is difficult to come back. We were a bit rusty, and the conditions here are different to Pakistan. They are young players who will learn quick."
Pakistan will need that to happen, after allowing New Zealand to get into an almost unassailable position inside the first five overs. New Zealand debutant Jacob Duffy was the man to inflict most of the damage, removing three of the top four before returning to get rid of Shadab, the top-scorer, and even with Pakistan's recovery they only managed 153, a total that, surface considered, was well below par. Shadab had warm praise for the 26-year-old, who finished with figures of 4-0-33-4, as well as New Zealand's bowling in general.
"Duffy is very good," Shadab said. "That was an exceptional first spell. But it's not easy for us. They are all good bowlers who play a lot of cricket in these conditions, and they have other bowlers coming back from the second game.
"It's tough for us because we haven't played much in these conditions. They did well in the National T20 and played well in the series against Zimbabwe series too. But the conditions are different because we played against Zimbabwe at home, not New Zealand. But the more cricket they play here, the better they will do."
Shadab insisted perspective was necessary, believing the side had put in a good performance considering how they began, and the absence of the talismanic Babar Azam. "We could make changes for the next games but we've done well. We were rusty and we didn't play any international cricket here, but we've done well.
"We missed Babar because he has the anchor role that he plays so well. Fakhar [Zaman] gives us an aggressive start in the powerplay and he's not here either, but this is a good opportunity for youngsters to do well.
"It was great to play in front of a crowd for the first time in a while. We were very happy and we will hope we make the crowd happy next time."
Meanwhile, Duffy, the Player of the Match, spoke of his delight at his dream debut, talking about how welcoming everyone in the New Zealand camp had been.
"It's amazing how many people reach out when you get a call-up, especially when you're from a small community like Southland," Duffy said. "It's pretty exciting for a small community. I've really enjoyed growing up there and people were really happy for me.
"You just have to play it like any other game. I've played with these boys in domestic cricket, and the good thing is you realise you're not too far away from the international level."
Given Tim Southee Trent Boult and Kyle Jamieson are set to return for the remainder of the series, Duffy will play no part in the remaining two games. That made impressing on his debut all the more important, but he insisted he didn't heap any pressure onto himself, and credited the New Zealand squad for making him feel accepted.
"I think you just have to keep doing what you've been doing to get here," Duffy said. "I've got a particular brand of cricket I like to play, things that have worked for me. I wanted to stick to my guns, and hopefully my best is good enough to get the job done.
"I've had a few ups and downs in my career. I went through an action remodel a few years ago. I used to just fall away and wasn't swinging the ball anymore, and was a little bit inaccurate. I missed cricket one summer but that was a massive turning point in my career.
"The bowling stocks in New Zealand cricket are probably the best they've ever been. I just get the chance to spend some time learning off them, and it's been great for me. The lads have been awesome and made me feel comfortable above and beyond."

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000