Shahid Afridi (left) and Kane Williamson © Getty Images
Shahid Afridi (left) and Kane Williamson © Getty Images

An action-packed contest awaits the crowd at Wellington as the hosts New Zealand take on the visitors Pakistan for the final Twenty20 International (T20I) battle of the series. The three-match series is tied 1-1 currently as the first match went in Pakistan’s way and New Zealand romped home in the second one. Both games saw some very exciting innings and bowling spells, including a match-winning performance from Pakistan T20I skipper Shahid Afridi and a record-breaking stand between New Zealand openers Kane Williamson and Martin Guptill. Prior to the series decider at Wellington, Paulami Chakraborty writes about the probable key battles to be expected during the match. LIVE CRICKET SCORECARD: New Zealand vs Pakistan 2015-16, 3rd T20I at Wellington

Martin Guptill vs Mohammad Hafeez: Both openers have so far performed significantly for their respective sides. Hafeez played exceptionally in the first T20I in Auckland. While most of his team’s batsmen failed, Hafeez stayed at the crease for long and went on to score a brilliant 61 that eventually contributed towards a 16-run victory. A similar scenario was seen in the second T20I as Martin Guptill, along with Kane Williamson, single-handedly gifted a victory to their side scoring 87. While Guptill has so far scored 89 in the series, Hafeez has 80 as opener. It will be interesting to see who ends up with more runs after his name.

Mohammad Hafeez vs Mitchell Santner: Hafeez, in the first T20I, played brilliantly and fearlessly as well, hitting boundaries to every Kiwi bowler barring Santner. Though Santner failed to bag Hafeez’s wicket, he gave only 5 runs to the Pakistan opener, all in singles. Will Santner be able to take his wicket in the final T20I?

Shoaib Malik vs Colin Munro: A good partnership often needs support from one end while the other batsman starts hitting freely. Malik proved to be a good partnership-builder for Pakistan in both matches, providing support to Hafeez in the first match and Umar Akmal in the second. Munro had done something similar in the first T20I as he built up a 80-run partnership with Kane Williamson. While Malik scored 20 in the first and 39 in the second, Munro has scored 56 in his only innings. The neck-to-neck fight will see the winner in the final match.

Adam Milne vs Wahab Riaz: The two pacers have emerged as the highest wicket taker for their respective sides in the series so far. Milne gave Pakistan their first blow in the first T20I when he picked up Ahmed Shehzad.He completed his spell with 4 crucial wickets and added another in the second match making it a total of 5 from 2 matches. On the other hand, Wahab removed both Munro and Guptill in the first match (both were set) and later bagged Trent Boult; he remained wicketless in the second match. Milne will surely look forward to increase his count and emerge as the highest wicket-taker as Wahab would likely try to beat him by his bowling brilliance.

Shahid Afridi vs Kane Williamson: Above everything, it is a battle of the skippers. Both Afridi and Williamson have given a hundred per cent, and were among of the key players in the respective victories. Afridi’s all-round performance in the first T20I with bat, ball and on field earned him the Man of the Match award, while Williamson shared the award in the second match with Guptill for their record-breaking opening stand. While Afridi has his experience and aggression, Williamson knows how to keep the calm and win it with fresh ideas. Who will win the final battle?

(Paulami Chakraborty, a singer, dancer, artist, and photographer, loves the madness of cricket and writes about the game. She can be followed on Twitter at @Polotwitts)