‘As a captain, I am very happy’
Captain Babar Azam's half-century inspired Pakistan to their second win in the Twenty20 international tri-series in Christchurch on Saturday, coasting past New Zealand by six wickets.
Pakistan were supreme in all facets as the Black Caps were shut down by tight Pakistani bowling (147-8) and that was never going to be enough runs with Babar Azam (79 off 53) in the middle, where poor fielding allowed him to remain as the tourists eased home with six wickets and 10 balls to spare.
New Zealand were missing as many as four of their first-choice XI, so will hardly be panicking. But they will need to make vast improvements if they wish to go one better at the World Cup after losing last year's final to Australia.
"We played really well. Our bowlers bowled well in the first six and finished well too. As a captain, I am very happy. We assessed the conditions and executed the plans. Shadab played well and Nawaz too. We have done our best. We need to sit together and discuss before next game," said Azam.
He said the rapid 61-run stand with Shadab for the third wicket gave an insight to a tactic they could employ at the World Cup, with the allrounder shifted up the order.
"Definitely, we have a plan to send Shadab up to charge the bowlers, to utilise his skills. He played very well. We planned that I would go all the way and Shadab would take a chance."
"We came up against a quality opposition. Pakistan were clinical and it was hard to get a rhythm. If we got two big overs there, the total would've been competitive. The guys are feeling good, and we know it's a tough match tomorrow (against Bangladesh). Same surface, looking forward to tomorrow," said New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson.
The hosts paid a heavy price for a straightforward dropped catch by Glenn Phillips at point off Tim Southee's bowling when Azam was on 27.
The opener went on to post his 28th T20 international half-century, the equal second most alongside Rohit Sharma, with both sitting behind another Indian, Virat Kohli (33).
"We pride ourselves in that area. Need to just switch on and hopefully a few learnings going into tomorrow night, "Williamson said when asked about their uncharacteristic fielding performance.