A pattern we all know too well. Pakistan makes a promising start to series only to throw it all away. In the first T20 Pakistani players performed in the field like ferocious tigers! The attitude of the players was outstanding. It seemed that a different Pakistani team has showed – that’s it isn’t it? Which Pakistani team shows up on the day. They appeared aggressive, sharp and had the desire to win. It was for all to see. In batting, we got off to sluggish start but then Hafeez, crucially accelerated with a quick half-century dominating the bowlers like he used in his best days back in 2011. For any side to win and win consistently, it is important that at least four players in the batting line up contribute regularly. Contributions from Akmal, Afridi and Imad were handy as Pakistan posted a matching winning total batting first against one of the most formidable bowling line ups in the world today – all seemed too good to be true - hallelujah.

With runs on the board, our bowlers rarely falter. Everyone chipped in and restricted New Zealanders to 155. It was also a decent return to the international cricket by Amir. Gull-dozer seemed to be hitting on the mark as well and even got the scalp with a beautiful yorker. A clean performance as a whole by the team. They looked head and shoulders better than their opponents.

Our fairy tales don’t last long do they? After a slow start again Pakistan posted a decent score, one they could easily defend with their bowling line up, thanks to the brilliant knock by Umer Akmal. Despite all the criticism Umer Akmal gets for not translating his potential to results (and the criticism is justified), I still think he is the best Pakistan has (or has had) at rotating strike. It goes without saying that your talented batsmen should get more balls in the middle. Rohit Sharma has transformed as player once he started opening the innings. More responsibility should also be entrusted to Umer. The choice of sending him down the order is inexplicable, especially when Shahzad and Maqsood appear clueless at the top. Both are consistently playing careless shots. Anyone, even with remote sense of the game, would not go down the wicket to a spinner, he has never played before and that too in alien conditions. Regardless, we should have closed the series. When our bowlers too falter, they do big time. Our bowlers looked shadow of what they were in the first T20. No yorkers, no changes in the pace, there seemed no game plan and they bowled on both sides of the wickets. Guptill and Willamson – and full credit to them - with shorter boundaries took our attack to the cleaners !

Third T20. Let's start with the toss. Can anyone tell me what prevailed over our captain when he decided to bowl first? Having played more than 20 years of International Cricket (he is only 35), he decided to bat first because “none had ever won batting first on that ground”. A decision that had little to do with our own chasing history and conditions on the day. Secondly, playing Anwar Ali for Umar Gul was a comical decision! They are far more superior bowlers than Anwar Ali, like Irfan, Junaid and Sohail who are being neglected. Anwar is only a second-rate bowler who can bat a bit! Anwar’s opening over gave New Zelanders the momentum and in the middle it was Anwar who provided with the release over that got Anderson going. 197 was always a far shot – but we were batting second on the ground and history was on our side! Our openers failed again. Hafeez has never scored runs in a crucial match. The dismissal of Rizwan probably best summed up the state of mind of our batsmen who had decidedly given up chasing from the word go. Sarfaraz is as good at number 8 in T20 as Inzamam’s post-match interviews. He should also be considered sending at the top of the order. He may have limitations but he is the gutsiest player in the team and he doesn’t throw away his wicket. The problem, may I add, isn’t about losing, it is the manner in which we lost. And the graph of performance that plummeted since the first T20 which concerns me. The coaching staff needs to explain this and share their report with public on reasons as to why we cannot perform consistently and are bent on shooting ourselves in the foot way too often.

With this performance of the team, there is a lot that needs to be improved. We don’t have the combinations going and are still experimenting with our choices. Barring a couple of batsmen, no one on performance alone can retain his spot and they seem to know this. In bowling, we don’t seem to prefer specialists and rely on all-rounders - this might be a good strategy but there should also be talent to back that up. Anwar Ali needs to raise his game if he wants to stick in. As for Shahzad and Maqsood, they have already taken one step out of the door!

We used to win on flashes of smartness, but now on a two-wheeler we are attempting to beat Lamborghinis! Mr Afridi, do you want to lead Pakistan to a successful world cup campaign in India? Are you prepared for it? We don’t think so.