Martin Guptill hit the first ball for four, and New Zealand had their noses in front. And they never relinquished that, and it is rare in short form cricket for one side to be in front from the start, and gradually grow that advantage.
The T2016 at the Wellington Regional Stadium (the @BLACKCAPS Twitter account gets told off for using the term Cake Tin) had a lot of good cricket throughout.
There was that start from Guptill. We got to see Amir in the flesh after all that time, and he is a pleasure to watch. There were three run-outs due to varying quality fielding and appalling running. There was the reminder that Corey Anderson is a very good short-form international batsman. He finished off with Queenstown like big hitting, but he got going with a couple of exquisite deft leg glances. New Zealand ended up with the highest T20 International score at the venue, and you got the feeling it may have been more.
When Pakistan batted there was a lot of fun. Milne was really quick, and really impressive. Grant Elliott brought out all the old tricks, and showed he will be a factor with the ball in India in March. Tying it all together was a superb display of outfield catching with Santner’s and McClenaghan’s over the shoulder efforts the highlights. Amongst all this was Sarfraz Ahmed’s gutsy rearguard effort.
There were even a couple of New Zealand injuries to get stressed about, with Australia here in ten days.
What the match lacked, however, was tension. Even though it was a series decider there was no ebb and flow of momentum, no wider picture drama.
That is not to say it was not a very good spectacle, there was a good atmosphere, the crowd stayed until the end, and everyone went home happy. But it was more like a collection of highlights, thrown together without much overall context. Like a random compilation of pop hits thrown together by a radio station without any overall theme or direction.
Perhaps that’s what T20 cricket is about.