2nd T20I: Having pushed Pakistan to the brink, New Zealand chase series
Glenn Phillips was one of several New Zealand batsmen to fail on Wednesday. @AFP

Pakistan underlined their status as the world No 1 in Twenty20 internationals with their 15th win this year, a narrow one by two runs over New Zealand in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. That has put Sarfraz Ahmed’s team one match from sealing the three-match series, but having come agonisingly close to beating them, the Blackcaps will feel like they can keep the contest alive.

A target of 149 should have been chased by New Zealand, who at one stage were 79/1 before losing three wickets for ten runs in 14 balls. Colin Munro had sped to 58 from 42 balls before falling to Shadab Khan during a period in which Pakistan’s spinners closed in. Needing 17 off the last over bowled by the 18-year-old fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi, Ross Taylor and Tim Southee managed a boundary each but it was not enough.

New Zealand used to be No 1 in T20Is, but now sit at fifth place after dropping seven of their last got matches. Of those defeats, five have come when batting second. No surprises where the issue is.

Having successful defended a run of scores in the 145 to 155 vicinity four times over the past nine days, which saw them beat Australia 3-0, Pakistan will be confident of applying the squeeze again. But runs from the middle order will be handy to add a little cushion, especially from Shoaib Malik who made 14 and 18 against Australia and 8 versus New Zealand.

Date: November 2

Venue: Dubai International Cricket Stadium

Time: 21:30 IST

Weather: Partly cloudy with a high of 32 degrees

Team News

Pakistan 

Afridi went for 29 in his three wicketless overs, and could be benched for Usman Khan despite defending 17 runs off the last over. There is no update on whether Fakhar Zaman has been passed fit.

Pakistan won the first T20I by two run
Pakistan won the first T20I by two runs. @AFP

Probable XI: 1 Babar Azam, 2 Sahibzada Farhan, 3 Mohammad Hafeez, 4 Shoaib Malik, 5 Asif Ali, 6 Sarfraz Ahmed (capt/wk), 7 Faheem Ashraf, 8 Imad Wasim, 9 Hasan Ali, 10 Shadab Khan, 11 Usman Khan/Shaheen Shah Afridi

New Zealand 

The bowlers did well under lights in Abu Dhabi, with Southee and Adam Milne impressive and the spin pair of Ish Sodhi and 30-year-old debutant Ajaz Patel worth persisting with. If Corey Anderson and Colin de Grandhomme can contribute runs, things will bet easier for New Zealand.

Probable XI: 1 Glenn Phillips, 2 Colin Munro, 3 Kane Williamson (captain), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Corey Anderson, 6 Colin de Grandhomme, 7 Tim Siefert, 8 Tim Southee, 9 Adam Milne, 10 Ish Sodhi, 11 Ajaz Patel

Statistics

- The legspinner Sodhi needs two wickets to move past Daniel Vettori to fourth spot in New Zealand’s overall T20I bowling chart.

- Munro (454) and top-ranked batsman Babar Azam (444) are in sight of 500 T20I runs this year. Only one batsman, the injured Fakhar Zaman, has topped 500 in 2018.

- Pakistan have won eight T20Is in a row, and if they win on Friday they will become the second team to achieve nine on the trot. The record belongs to Afghanistan, who were unbeaten in 11 matches between March 2016 and March 2017.

Quotes

“I don’t think we can look too down. We’ve only got two days to turn it around so we’ll be taking the positives from tonight. There were plenty of positives.” – Colin Munro

“Credit to the bowlers. Conditions were tough. There was a collapse in our batting. But we knew if we got 150, our bowlers can defend it.” – Sarfraz Ahmed