Colin Munro's controlled aggression with the bat eked out a comfortable victory for New Zealand in the 1st T20 International against Pakistan in Wellington. New Zealand had only 106 runs to chase courtesy of three-wicket hauls by stand-in captain Tim Southee and Seth Rance, and two wickets for Mitchell Santner on a surface that had appreciable bounce.
In reply, Pakistan struck twice in the first four overs to reduce New Zealand to 8/2. But thereafter, Munro added 49 runs in 6.3 overs with Tom Bruce to decisively turn the game in New Zealand's favour.
Munro remained unbeaten on 49 and had he completed a half-century, he would have become the first batsman to score three back-to-back half-centuries in T20 international cricket. But he was pleased to have played the anchor role in New Zealand's successful chase.
"(It was) very pleasing for me, not something I'm used to. I gave myself some time. A little bit up and down, but not a shocker," Munro said about his knock, which was a mixture of caution and aggression.
He had scored only 14 runs off his first 18 balls but then switched gears when he was set and had a partnership going with Bruce. Munro scored 35 off his next 25 deliveries.
"We spoke about trying to play straight. We went across the line and lost wickets. I've evolved in the last 12-18 months, I tried to premeditate in the shorter format, but (now I am) reacting well," Munro said.
Stand-in captain Tim Southee was pleased with his team's early wickets.
"Winning the toss on that wicket, taking wickets was the plan. (This was) not your typical Westpac wicket," he said.
Southee shared the wickets with fellow fast bowler Rance, who dismissed Umar Amin in the third over and then came back towards the death to send back Hasan Ali and Mohammad Amir. Southee said Rance had shown that he belonged to the international game.
"He has been playing great cricket, he's shown he's worthy of playing in this team."
Things weren't so good for Pakistan, though. After losing the ODI series 5-0, they have lost the first of the three T20Is and need to win the next game in Auckland (on January 25) to stay alive in the series. Their captain Sarfraz Ahmed rued the loss of wickets in quick succession and felt that a score of 140 would have been competitive.
"We lost too many wickets and didn't recover for the full match. We assessed the pitch (and realized that) if we don't have wickets in hand we could lose. They bowled well. Our bowlers bowled well (but) if we (had) scored 130-140, it would have been a good match," Sarfraz said.