Cricket: Blackcaps rue middle-order collapse against Pakistan

The Blackcaps pushed the best T20 team in the world to the limit, before losing to Pakistan by two runs in the opening game in Abu Dhabi on Thursday (NZ time).

Chasing 149 to win, experienced veteran Ross Taylor needed a six off the last ball to tie the match, but could only manage a four.

It was a tough loss for New Zealand, considering they were in the match until their mini-collapse.

Opener Colin Munro top-scored with 58 off 42 balls, before his wicket sparked the collapse midway through New Zealand's chase.

After losing Munro, the Blackcaps lost two more wickets and managed just 14 off the next three overs to leave them needing 53 off the last five.

The ultimately fell two runs short in the first of three T20s.

Munro said the middle of their innings was probably where the game was decided.

"I lost my wicket and then Kane got out, sort of like a bang-bang, and after the power play, their spinners came on and squeezed," he said. "You've got to give them credit.

Colin Munro scored 58 against Pakistan.
Colin Munro scored 58 against Pakistan. Photo credit: Photosport

"They bowled really well, they know these conditions really well and it suited them a little bit tonight, and we just got outplayed, just I reckon.

"It was a pretty even game and we didn't really lose our way anywhere, I don't think. They just bowled really well and we just couldn't capitalise through the middle there.

"It was an even game. We didn't lose our way, they just bowled well and we couldn't capitalise in the middle."

World number one Pakistan have now won 12 of their last 13 T20 internationals, including five straight against Australia.

The match was also New Zealand's first since the test series against England back in March.

Blackcaps captain Kane Williamson said there were many positives to take from the defeat.

"You could look at heaps of different parts to the game, whether that was bat or ball,” he said. “There were a lot of positives to take out of it and we've seen in T20 cricket over here how clinical Pakistan are.

"It just means refining little bits of your game and it can make all the difference.

"Colin [Munro] played beautifully and got a few away, and gave us a really good power play. Then, in those middle phases, spin over here can be quite challenging and you do have to soak up those dot balls."

"It was a good game of cricket. Pakistan deserved to win, but we need to learn and move on quickly."

The second T20 is scheduled for Saturday (NZ time).

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