A day before this match, in a familiar state of needing to win every match, Shahid Afridi said it is not miracles that work at such times; it is the little things. Afridi has spent two decades in international cricket, we should be listening to him. But based on their performance in Mohali, it seemed like neither he, nor his team, took heed of those words.
Pakistan did not get the little things right and reposed all their faith in miracles: a whirlwind start from Sharjeel Khan where almost everything was in the slot, and Afridi promoting himself, hoping against hope that he can keep hitting for long enough. The little things were all wrong. An exhaustive list might be too long for this space, but you can take your pick from what sums it up best.
Almost every Twenty20 team puts its best fielders on the fence, but either Pakistan have too many to hide or they are yet to get the memo. Umar Akmal would often be in the circle with Sharjeel or Mohammad Amir or Mohammad Irfan allowing easy twos that New Zealand don't when they are fielding. Afridi himself kept misfielding at extra cover.
In the 18th over, with Ross Taylor on 13, Irfan bowled him a good bouncer, it induced a massive top edge. Sharjeel was at square leg, and Amir at fine leg on the boundary. Neither of them picked it early, neither of them looked keen to go for it. New Zealand fielders might have risked a collision, but here the two were so slow to the ball - which fell at long leg - it allowed Taylor to take three runs. He ended with 36 not out, including 15 off the last over.
Somehow there was a window left with New Zealand reaching only a par score. Mohammad Sami bowled a good 19th over, keeping New Zealand from getting to 200. There was still hope. For a miracle. It began with Mitchell Santner bowling a rare full toss. Sharjeel got going. New Zealand then got the attack all wrong. Everybody knew Sharjeel struggles outside off, but they kept bowling at his body, trying to cramp him up. Sharjeel loves it there; he can pull and heave. The platform was laid with 47 off 25, a team score of 65 in 5.3 overs.
All that was needed after that for somebody to trust his game - keep pinching the ones and twos regularly, and get the boundaries when New Zealand try too hard for a wicket. They got exactly that kind of over soon after the Powerplay. Ahmed Shehzad cut Grant Elliott for four first ball, followed by a couple and four singles. They could have afforded a quiet over even if it was followed by some gentle accumulation. The quiet over came from Ish Sodhi, the eighth, which went for three. The response was panic: Khalid Latif came down the track looking for a miracle. He found long-on.
Shehzad and Umar Akmal then began to play the big shots and big shots only. Shehzad, in particular, didn't trust his own game to keep scoring at a little over a run a ball without taking risks. Not once did he attempt a chip, just the miraculous boundaries that would get Pakistan home without having to go through the grind once the pitch slows down, the ball gets old and the field spreads. From 20 off 14 balls, Shehzad finished on 30 off 32.
Afridi moved ahead of Shoaib Malik and Sarfraz Ahmed once again. Sarfraz, in particular, was just the man to put spinners off their length with his sweeps, just the man to bring energy into the middle, just the man to look for those twos. But Afridi was hoping for a serious miracle with an innings played purely on pride. It didn't last long enough and Sarfraz, as against India, came in to bat once the game was over.
In the press conference Waqar Younis said the batsmen were not good enough, that they couldn't hit any boundaries in the middle. He was partly right. They hit just three fours and a six since Sharjeel got out, and Umar Akmal, who couldn't hit even one, was a big culprit. He is the one batsman in the side expected to keep hitting the odd boundary mixed with singles and twos. That was the only big thing gone wrong. Everywhere else Pakistan expected a miracle. Didn't Afridi tell us miracles don't happen if you get those little things right?
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo