3rd T20: Pakistan, New Zealand play for series at Guptill’s hunting ground

New Zealand’s Martin Guptill devastated Pakistan at Hamilton in the second T20 but Shahid Afridi’s side could be in for more trouble as the two teams move to the Kiwi opener’s favourite hunting ground for the third and final T20 on Friday.

The Wellington Regional Stadium is the arena which witnessed Guptill blast 237 off 163 against the West Indies in the quarter-final of the 2015 World Cup.

The 29-year-old combined with skipper Kane Williamson in a record-breaking partnership of 171 runs to give New Zealand a 10-wicket victory in the second T20 and that feat will be playing on the mind of the Pakistan team which appeared completely helpless against the charge.

Consistency at the top of the batting order will allow the Kiwis to tinker with the batting remaining line up, providing them with an option to expose the likes of Colin Munro, Ross Taylor, Grant Elliot and Luke Ronchi to some match practice as the encounter will be their last T20 before the World Championship.

The Pakistan bowlers, on the other hand, will have plenty of thinking to do if the visitors are to clinch the series.

Mohammad Amir, who gave away 34 runs in three overs on Sunday, is still finding his rhythm after coming back to the national side after five years but Afridi, Wahab Riaz and the other bowlers will need to step up.

The Pakistan skipper finished with a poor economy rate of 9.50 while Wahab conceded 10 an over.

But the manner in which New Zealand chased 168 means the Pakistan batsmen too will need to ramp up a much bigger total.

Apart from Mohammad Hafeez and Umar Akmal, no batsman has been up to the mark for the touring side.

New Zealand clearly look stronger, and a series victory will not only affirm that they are one of the top sides in limited-overs cricket but also be a massive boost for a bowling unit missing the likes of Tim Southee and Trent Boult.

For Pakistan, who lost 3-0 to England in UAE in November, winning the third T20 will be the best way to silence their critics and regain some much-needed confidence before the World T20.

Teams (from)

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (capt), Corey Anderson, Todd Astle, Trent Boult, Grant Elliott, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Mitchell McClenaghan, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, Luke Ronchi (wk), Mitchell Santner, Ross Taylor.

Pakistan: Shahid Afridi (capt), Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Sohaib Maqsood, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Anwar Ali, Aamer Yamin, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Wahab Riaz, Umar Gul, Mohammad Rizwan, Saad Nasim, Mohammad Amir.

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