Auckland: New Zealand will try to cash in on a new-found confidence after winning the first Twenty20 match against Pakistan as they look to wrap up the series in the second game in Hamilton on Tuesday.
It may only be Twenty20, but the first-up win meant a lot to the morale of the New Zealanders who still have to play Pakistan in the more established Test and one-day forms of cricket over the next seven weeks.
Beating Pakistan by five wickets and with 17 balls to spare in Auckland on Sunday brought an end to a woeful losing streak of 11 consecutive one-day internationals and three Tests.
It also signalled a winning direction for New Zealand under new coach John Wright who was rushed into the side a week ago and charged with turning fortunes around.
“It’s a winning dressing room,” declared regular captain Daniel Vettori who is sitting out the Twenty20 matches to rest a sore back.
“In the short time Wrighty has been here, he’s a positive character and you really know he loves the game and is passionate about New Zealand. That is the great thing that will rub off.”
Tim Southee paved the way for the victory with a lethal nine-ball spell in which he took five wickets, including a hat-trick, without conceding a run as Pakistan were restricted to 143 for nine.
Opening batsman Martin Guptill then took the sting out of the Pakistani attack when he smashed 54 off 29 balls and New Zealand completed the victory formalities on the first ball of the 18th over.
Stand-in skipper Ross Taylor said it was now vital for the team to keep the winning momentum going.
“It has been well documented over the last couple of months that we haven’t played as well as we would have liked. I’m sure the win will get a bit of confidence in the team. Hopefully we can continue that,” Taylor said.
Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi said batting partnerships and bowling in the right areas were the things his side needed to improve on if they are to turn their fortunes around in Hamilton.
“There were a few areas we should bowl more consistently to and we didn’t bowl there.”
The third and final Twenty20 match is in Christchurch on Thursday before the first of two Tests begins in Hamilton on January 7.