Before the New Zealand tour for five One-day Internationals and three Twenty20 Internationals, it was expected that Pakistan would continue their winning streak that started in the ICC Champions Trophy last year. But surprisingly the Green-shirts meekly surrendered against the New Zealand pace attack and faced a whitewash.
It is only the third time that Pakistan have been whitewashed in ODIs. They had been beaten by the same margin by Australia in 2010 and the West Indies in 1988.
The New Zealand bowlers made the Pakistanis struggle in every match, never allowing them to build any strong platform.
The openers who had made valuable contributions during the Champions Trophy and in the Sri Lanka series were out of sorts on New Zealand soil. The home side kept the pressure on Pakistan throughout the series by their tight bowling, supported by athletic fielding.
Pakistani openers provided starts of 6, 5, 1, 7 & 14, averaging just 6.6 runs. On the other hand, the Kiwi openers set foundations of 83, 1, 15, 88 & 52 at an average of 47.8.
Haris Sohail proved that keeping him out of the first three ODIs was not a wise decision as he scored two half-centuries in the last two games. Muhammad Hafeez (148 runs) and all-rounder Shadab Khan (140 runs) also scored two fifties each.
Pakistan have always been unpredictable. After winning the ICC Champions Trophy in June last year, the Green-shirts lost the “Home” Test series to an inexperienced Sri Lanka in the UAE, but bounced back in the ODI series and whitewashed them.
Our top order consistently looked uncomfortable against fast bowlers Tim Southee and Trent Boult. Azhar Ali (12 runs in three innings), Hafeez (148 runs), Shoaib Malik (49 in four innings), Babar Azam (31) and skipper Sarfraz Ahmed (79) failed to cope up with unfamiliar conditions in New Zealand.
In the third ODI at Dunedin, Pakistan were bowled out for just 74. At one stage, they were 32-8. People thought they would get out before reaching 35, the lowest-ever ODI total. But the tail prevented that humiliation.
Pakistan played a lot better in the fourth ODI, but still suffered the same result. It was a case of one man playing an extraordinary knock to take away the game from them. Colin de Grandhomme with his unbeaten 74 off just 40 deliveries snatched victory from Pakistan.
Pakistan were very much in the game as they had reduced the Black Caps to 99-4, but de Grandhomme and Henry Nicholls (52 not out) defied Pakistan.
Pakistan started the tour with a big win of 120 runs against the New Zealand XI in a warm-up game. But when the ODI series began, the Kiwis pacers exposed Pakistani batsmen’s weaknesses on grassy tracks.
The Green-shirts lost the first ODI at Willington by 61 runs, the second at Nelson by eight wickets, the third at Dunedin by a huge margin of 183 runs, the fourth by five wickets at Hamilton and the last at Wellington by 15 runs.
Pakistan have played 12 ODI series in New Zealand so far and have won only two. They lost nine and drew one.
We can’t blame the Green-shirts as they are used to playing on dry and flat pitches of Pakistan and the UAE.
Pakistan’s famed bowling attack never threatened the Black Caps in the series. Mohammad Amir, who came back in the headlines with a match-winning performance against India in the Champions Trophy final, failed to repeat his performance. On the same tracks, New Zealand fast bowlers, especially Boult, were unplayable. Amir conceded 145 runs and took only two wickets.
A lot was expected from Shadab as the Black Caps are not good against quality spin bowling. But except the fourth ODI when he claimed 3-42, he failed. The Kiwi batsmen tackled him very intelligently. He took only five wickets in five matches, conceding 206 runs.
In the five ODIs, Man-of-the-Series Martin Guptill was the highest scorer with 310 runs, which he scored at an average of 77.5. He hit one hundred and one fifty. Dashing opener Fakhar Zaman was the highest run-getter for Pakistan with 150 runs at an average of 50. He struck two half centuries.
New Zealand pacers dominated the series. Boult and Southee were the leading wicket-takers with nine and eight dismissals, respectively.
Rumman took seven wickets at an average of 35.25, while Hasan Ali, who won the ICC Emerging Player of the Year Award, took six, averaging 36.16.
Only two centuries were scored in the ODI series, both by New Zealand players: Kane Williamson and Guptill.