The Pakistan T20 fairytale continues as they clinched their 11th consecutive T20I series by defeating New Zealand in the second T20I at Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Dubai. The form they have been in the shortest format is quite incredible and now aim to sweep the series, when they take on the Kiwis for the final T20I at the same venue on Sunday, November 4.
Both teams have now played 20 T20 internationals against each other, with the Asians leading 12-8. In Dubai, the head-to-head surrender to hosts at 5-0.
In their previous meeting at this venue on November 2, the visitors put up a decent total of 153/7 in their quota of 20 overs, but proved below par against sublime hosts as they overhauled the target with six wickets to go.
Pakistan have been in ominous form in T20 cricket and teams have found it very difficult to beat them in the shortest format. The fact that they have lost just four out of 32 T20I matches that they have played since the WT20 2016 simply tells their story.
The opening pair of Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman will once again bear the responsibility to take their team off to a flier. Both shared a 40-run opening between them in the previous T20 and will be expected to replicate the same in final T20I.
Apart from these two, Mohammad Hafeez has been in good form and is leading the runs chart for hosts, he scored unbeaten 21-ball 34 in the previous fixture. While Asif Ali too joined him and played a crucial knock of 38 runs. Both these batsmen made sure that there were no late hiccups in Pakistan chase.
Pakistan are having a golden run in this department. With all of their bowlers performing well, it's hard to imagine them on the losing side. Imad Wasim took three wickets in two games and the left-arm spinner is likely to give the Kiwi batsmen a hard time again. In the second T20I, Mohammad Hafeez and Shaheen Afridi shared four scalps between them to cripple the Kiwis' middle order.
Expected Playing XI
Sarfraz Ahmed (C), Faheem Ashraf, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Asif Ali, Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik.
New Zealand have been lacking consistency in their performance when it comes to the 20 over format. The fact that they have won just three out of their 11 T20 outings this year, doesn't support their cause. Despite playing well, they were unable to kept their nerves in crucial overs.
New Zealand batting mostly relies on Colin Munro, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor. Munro has been the team's most successful batsman in this series with 102 runs and he will look to put in a similar performance in the final game as well. While Anderson scored a quickfire 44 last time out and he can cause more damage if promoted up the order.
The Kiwis will also expect strong contributions from Williamson and Taylor. Both are unarguably great players of spin and it will be crucial for them, that at least one of them goes on to anchor the innings till the end.
Adam Milne is New Zealand's key performance in this series. The right arm pacer is leading the wickets chart with four scalps in two outings and will once again be their go-to bowler against Kiwis. Though the bowler has been their sole performer the series and lack support from the other end. It's essential that Tim Southee and Ish Sodhi play their part and support him by few quick scalps in the middle, else it'll once again be a cakewalk for the hosts.
Expected Playing XI
Kane Williamson (C), Colin de Grandhomme, Ross Taylor, Corey Anderson, Tim Seifert, Tim Southee, Adam Milne, Ish Sodhi, Ajaz Patel, Glenn Phillips and Colin Munro.Published 04 Nov 2018, 09:00 IST