Abu Dhabi: New Zealand opener Glenn Phillips smashed a 36-ball 48 in his team’s 37-run win over the UAE on Monday and heralded they have the fire power to give themselves more than a “fighting chance” against World No. 1 T20 side Pakistan.
The task is clearly daunting as Pakistan, on Sunday, piled more misery on Australia by completing a 3-0 T20 rout to swell their winning streak to an outstanding 10 successive series under captain Sarfraz Ahmed.
“Pakistan are very strong, but every team has their weaknesses and if we play to our potential I’m sure we can have more than a fighting chance to win the series,” said Phillips, who was also part of the New Zealand ‘A’ team that beat Pakistan ‘A’ 2-1 in the T20 series earlier this month in the UAE.
He has huge boots to fill in though as he has joined forces with Colin Munro at the top, in place of the injured Martin Guptill.
“I have been there with Munro a few times and we get along well together,” said 21-year-old wicketkeeper batsman. “I have to admit I’m not going to be a Guptill. I will do the best that I can do. I have my strengths, Guptill has got his strengths so if I try to be him, things will go wrong. I will stay myself as much as possible.”
Phillips, and Corey Anderson were the two players to join the Black Caps from the ‘A’ team and are acclimatised to conditions better than the rest having spent around a month here in the UAE. And according to him, the conditions here in the UAE are a bit tricky as they are changeable.
“Adapting to the conditions quickly will be the key for us as the wickets here are a bit two-paced,” says the South African-born cricketer who plays for Auckland. “Having that T20 series win against Pakistan ‘A’ was a real confidence booster. The boys now know they can win away from home. I reckon we have the team to upset Pakistan at the moment. If we bring everything together, work hard, then hopefully we can win.”
Phillips had scored a crucial unbeaten 69 from 50 balls laced with five fours and four sixes in a dominant display to clinch the series-deciding third T20 which Pakistan ‘A’ lost six wickets chasing 156.
“If we keep wickets in hand we have a strong hitting lower order as well. It will be up to the top order to take us as long as possible, as in the death it is quite hard to hit out. So we have to make sure that we don’t have our lower order batsmen too much to do. The onus will be on the top order throughout the series,” said Phillips, who has watched the Pakistan team perform closely and felt their spin bowlers weren’t turning the ball much off the wicket.
“In terms of spin, at the moment, the way they are bowling they are not turning much,” he said. “The more of the fact that they are so accurate. If we can rotate our strike then we have the power in our line-ups to take any bowler down if we need to. May not be that we take the spinners down but will wait for the pacers, it all depends on the pitch.”
Phillips added that there was no pressure on his shoulder heading into the series. “The environment in the team is great,” he said. “They believe in you and they basically tell you to do what you do and make you feel at home.
“It is nice to be in a trusting environment where everyone is trusting each other’s game. At the end of the day, if it is not my game today then it will be somebody else’s day. Mine would come tomorrow, that’s the way we all look at it.”
Brief Scores: New Zealand beat UAE by 37 runs. New Zealand: 161 for 4 in 20 overs (Glenn Phillips 48, Mark Chapman 36, Tim Seifert 29)
UAE: 124 for 8 in 20 overs (Ghulam Shabbir, Fahad Nawaz, Ish Sodhi 2 for 11