Pakistan grapple with scoring rate and fielding issues after New Zealand's T20 win

Black Caps chase down 179 with ease in Rawalpindi to level five-match series

New Zealand's Mark Chapman, second right, celebrates with James Neesham after their win over Pakistan in the third T20 in Rawalpindi on Sunday. AP
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Pakistan were left with more questions than answers after a weakened New Zealand side eased to a seven-wicket win in the third T20 in Rawalpindi.

Mark Chapman is one of the few recognised players in an understrength Kiwi squad and he made the most of three dropped catches to hit an unbeaten 87 from just 42 balls to help chase down 179 and level the five-match series at 1-1.

Chapman and Dean Foxcroft (31) shared a century stand for the third wicket and New Zealand reached 179-3 in 18.2 overs, a day after they were bundled out for just 90 in the second match.

Chapman, whose only T20I hundred came at the same venue last year, smashed four sixes and nine fours in his eighth half-century in the format.

Pakistan captain Babar Azam rued the dropped chances that allowed Chapman to flourish.

"We started well with the ball in the first six overs, but when you drop a set batter's catches then he will take the game away from you," said Azam. "Chapman has always done well against us."

Another problem that cropped up during the match was the home team's scoring rate. Under Azam's previous tenure as captain, Pakistan had struggled with scoring at a higher rate, even though Azam and Mohammad Rizwan scored regularly.

On Sunday, captain Azam made 37 from 29 balls while Rizwan scored 22 from 21 before retiring hurt due to injury.

Leg-spinner Ish Sodhi (2-25) stemmed the flow of runs soon after the power play when he had young opener Saim Ayub caught in the outfield.

Kiwi captain Michael Bracewell, who bowled two overs of off spin in the power play, returned and took the prized wicket of Azam when the Pakistan skipper offered a tame catch at point.

It was only a quickfire 41 off 20 balls from all-rounder Shadab Khan, who batted at number six, that allowed Pakistan to post a decent score. But by the end of the match, it was clear that the hosts were around 20 runs short.

The home team captain admitted the score was below par, but added that Rizwan's injury was the main cause.

"I don't think it [slowdown] made much of a difference because we had caught up in the end. You can say we were around 10 runs short. Unfortunately, Rizwan got injured and it is not easy for new batters. But Shadab recovered well and had an outstanding partnership with Irfan [Khan]. In Pindi, 180-190 is a par score. We did well in batting."

However, Pakistan coach Azhar Mahmood said the slowdown in the middle period while batting was a worry as Pakistan had lost just four wickets, and yet could only make 178.

"We were 15-20 [runs] short. We started well in the first six overs, and Shadab played well in the end. But in the middle, we slowed down. The ball was gripping. This is a learning for us," he said.

The Black Caps are playing the series with a second-string side as almost their entire first-choice squad is currently in India for the IPL. The final two matches of the series are in Lahore on April 25 and 27.

Updated: April 22, 2024, 7:55 AM