After Pakistan’s defeat in the second one-day international by 3 wickets and 2 balls, the team must look inwards to assess where the performance can be improved in March at the T20 World Cup 2016. The loss of both series was expected considering New Zealand’s destructive form before hosting Pakistan, but letting the Pakistan team off using that excuse is not enough. The batting in this match could have been better. Pakistan’s score of 290 could have been improved upon had the last three overs been properly utilised. Hafeez’s form in the first match of the T20 series and the last match of the one-day series has to be commended. But his dismal performances in the other two T20s make it hard to pick him as the stand-out performer of the New Zealand tour.

Pakistan’s next big competition is the world cup, and this performance – while it may not provide lessons to improve – does make many revelations about where the team currently stands. The batting needs a proper middle order. The team’s best batsmen are expected to have a strike rate around 120, which is far below the best of other international teams. Pakistan needs a good spin duo, and while Immad Wasim is a decent player, more is needed to form a reliable attack against top batting teams. Muhammad Amir’s return while not spectacular is a vindication of his selection. He took Brendan Mccullum’s wicket in the first bowl, and this is the sort of flair that the team has been missing for many years. As always, the team’s fielding is still the weakest link, and gaffes in that area continue to cost the country matches.

The captains of both formats also need to be looked at going forward. Azhar Ali is clearly not the best choice as captain of the one-day international. He has failed to make a mark on the team, and his record as skipper shows that something needs to change. Shahid Afridi’s T20 captaincy in the World Cup will prove to be a defining point in the team’s performance. The statistics of his time as skipper are not the best; he has lost too many matches. His aggressive quality has come in handy sometimes, but also has a tendency to fail spectacularly on many occasions. Pakistan’s T20 ranking of eight is abysmal and is a measure of how far the team has fallen. Upsets are always a possibility in cricket and this team has done the impossible time and again, but once more, Pakistan is not at its best as the World Cup looms closer.

Anything can happen in the world of sport, and one can only hope that this world cup is one where the team does not sputter and collapse.