New Zealand's short visit, with five one-day internationals crammed into just nine days, was another step towards the return of cricketing normality in Pakistan. Following the attacks on the United States by Islamic terrorists in September 2001, international sides had repeatedly dodged scheduled tours of Pakistan on safety grounds - to the growing frustration of the cricket board, which saw the fears as largely unfounded. On this occasion they were proved right. However, in cricketing terms, New Zealand's trip was hardly an unqualified success. After coming close to a shock win in the thrilling first match, they were crushed in front of small crowds in the other four.

The visitors' squad was simply not good enough. New Zealand's previous trip, in May 2002, had been cut short by a bomb blast in Karachi (this visit was, in part, an attempt to make good Pakistan's financial losses from that tour) and six of their preferred squad refused to travel this time. Indeed in November, when New Zealand Cricket received a threatening email warning them not to tour, it looked as though the whole trip could be cancelled. It was only confirmed after the Pakistan board said they would pull out of a forthcoming return tour in retaliation.

As well as the refuseniks, several key players, most importantly captain Stephen Fleming and fast bowler Shane Bond, were ruled out by injury. As a result, New Zealand's squad contained seven players who had never appeared in a one-day international. In Hamish Marshall they unearthed a batsman with a look of real quality. But, on the whole, the inexperienced team could not compete with a Pakistan team skilled at playing in home conditions.

Pakistan's opening batsmen, Yasir Hameed and Imran Farhat, produced an unprecedented four successive century stands, their seamers bowled with pace and accuracy, and in the first three matches Abdul Razzaq scored 123 runs in 54 balls, a display of power hitting the New Zealand bowlers had no answer to.

As so often, the selection of the Pakistan squad had been controversial. A 22-man list of "probables" was reconsidered when it was revealed that the chief selector, Aamir Sohail, had not consulted either coach Javed Miandad or captain Inzamam-ul-Haq; one of the new players selected in the revised squad was Junaid Zia, a 19-year-old seam bowler and son of Lt General Tauqir Zia, chairman of the Pakistan board. Amid whisperings of nepotism, Junaid spared himself and the selectors any further embarrassment by pulling out almost immediately, citing pressure of exams. His father resigned as chairman shortly afterwards, after four years. By the turbulent standards of Pakistan cricket, it had been a long stint.