Mohammad Hafeez was inspiration for Pakistan's two-run victory in opening clash in Abu Dhabi
Colin Munro backs New Zealand to bounce back against Pakistan in T20 series in Dubai
New Zealand may have begun their Twenty20 series against Pakistan in losing fashion in Abu Dhabi, but opener Colin Munro believes the side have genuine cause for optimism ahead of Friday's second match in Dubai.
Despite Munro's 58 off 46 balls and an unbeaten 42 off 26 deliveries from Ross Taylor, New Zealand fell short by two runs on 146-6 on Wednesday at the Zayed Cricket Stadium as they failed to match Pakistan's 148-6.
“I don’t think we can look too down from our first game and there is two days to turn it around,” said Munro as he looked ahead to the second game in the three-match series, which starts at 8pm on Friday at Dubai Cricket Stadium.
“We need to keep building and come back strongly to level the series, and then go to that big game, hopefully.”
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The Black Caps had looked well placed to chase down Pakistan's total, which was led by 45 from Mohammad Hafeez, but the innings lost momentum after Munro was dismissed in the 12th over, caught by Asif Ali off Shadab Khan.
“To be honest I was trying to get my team to a good position and play as well as I could,” said Munro.
“That’s the nature of this game, and if you are lucky, then generate the strike rate. It would have been nice to carry on and make a 70 or 80 not out to take the game home but unfortunately it wasn’t that.
“I lost my wicket and then Kane (Williamson) got out (at 84). After the powerplay the spinners came in and squeezed it. We need to give credit to them. They know these conditions really well and suited them very well tonight.”
New Zealand may have not played international cricket for more than seven months before Wednesday, and the Twenty20 format for more than nine months, but Munro said he and his teammates were pleased with how they had fared in the series opener.
“It was a pretty even game,” added Munro. “They bowled very well and we couldn’t capitalise in the middle.
“We too bowled well at the start and through the middle as well. Our fielding was outstanding and that’s the bench mark we have set in international cricket and that was unbelievable.”
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Munro arrived earlier than his teammates to play in the inaugural Afghanistan Premier League (APL) in Sharjah in October and said it was a little refreshing to come back to international cricket on the back of that tournament.
“Sharjah is a totally different wicket but to get over here to adapt and be here for two-three weeks before was helpful for me,” he said when asked if playing in Sharjah had helped him build his form for facing Pakistan.
“I didn’t have a great tournament but it was nice and a little bit refreshing coming back to international cricket.”
Hafeez, who was named man of the match for his efforts with the bat and a tight spell of 0-13 with the ball off three overs, acknowledged New Zealand as a hard team to beat, particularly in the limited-over format.
“They always bring something new in this format and surprise you,” he said. “They were excellent on the field and took some really outstanding catches on the night.
“I think we have the momentum on our side and that was an advantage. We have been successful in the shortest format of the game and that has provided the players the confidence at the moment.
“We have another game coming up on Friday and I believe it’s going to be another tough game. We need to really work hard and hit all the areas to win against them.”