The leading priority for the White Ferns today ought to be avoid a third consecutive loss to Pakistan — that is if fear is any motivator at all.
Pakistan had never beaten the White Ferns in a T20 match in eight previous games before the current series. But they will start today’s fixture in Queenstown as favourites after rolling the White Ferns in back-to-back games in Dunedin earlier this month.
The tourists cruised to a seven-wicket win in the opener and held on to best the White Ferns by 10 runs in the second game to clinch the series win.
Medium pacer Fatima Sana was named player of the match for her haul of three for 18 in game one and stood out in game two as well with three for 22.
She is one player the White Ferns will have to find a way to negate.
Hard-hitting middle order batter Aliya Riaz is another. She has clobbered 57 runs from 34 balls in two games and is yet to lose her wicket.
It must have all come as a shock to the White Ferns, who started the series as strong favourites but have the look of a team who have made no discernible progress in the past few years.
Pakistan has shown more energy and played with more intent than the home side, and that will also rankle with the management.
The White Ferns power duo — Suzie Bates and Sophie Devine — have fizzed rather than fired.
Star all-rounder Melie Kerr missed the opening game due to Big Bash commitments in Australia.
That will annoy some of the faithful, who might prefer to see the country’s top players playing international cricket rather than in an Australian domestic competition.
It seems to be a compromise New Zealand Cricket is comfortable with, but it just lends further weight to the idea T20 circuits are undermining the international game.
The White Ferns bowling unit has, for the most part, not been able to execute the game plan.
If you could sum up the last two games in one word, it would be "flop".
Pace bowler Molly Penfold said the White Ferns had "found a real purpose" at training and hopefully that means they will play with more accuracy and intent.
While the series has been lost, Penfold said it was important the White Ferns put "a lot of energy and effort into the game".
"We don’t just want to let it slip.
"We have some world-class players in the team, so the confidence is definitely up there, for sure. We know our strengths and we know we can perform."
INTERNATIONAL T20 SERIES
New Zealand: Suzie Bates, Kate Anderson, Sophie Devine (captain), Maddy Green, Bernadine Bezuidenhout, Georgia Plimmer, Lea Tahuhu, Jess Kerr, Molly Penfold, Eden Carson, Hannah Rowe, Izzy Gaze, Fran Jonas.
Pakistan: Shawaal Zulfiqar, Muneeba Ali, Sadaf Shamas, Omaima Sohail, Nida Dar (captain), Natalia Pervaiz, Fatima Sana, Najiha Alvi, Umm-e-Hani, Diana Baig, Nashra Sandhu, Waheeda Akhtar, Sidra Ameen, Aliya Riaz, Bismah Maroof, Ghulam Fatima, Sadia Iqbal.