Rawalpindi: Mark Chapman’s red-hot Twenty20 form in Pakistan has revived the New Zealand batter’s One-Day International career in a World Cup year, but the 28-year-old is taking nothing for granted.
Initially selected only for the T20 leg of the Black Caps’ tour, Chapman had checked out of his hotel room in Rawalpindi and was preparing to leave for home after helping his team draw the series on Monday 2-2, from being 2-0 down.
Then came the news he was staying on for the five-match ODI series starting in Rawalpindi on Thursday.
“I had to check back into my room,” Chapman, who made his international debut for Hong Kong in 2014 before moving to New Zealand, said. “I already had paid my bill and checked out.
“I got back here, had to get another room key… Same room, thankfully. So, it feels like home.”
Chapman was dismissed only once in five innings and racked up 290 runs — a record tally for a five-match T20 series — and was named Player of the Series.
The middle-order batter smashed 104 off 57 balls on Monday to secure New Zealand’s six-wicket win in the final match, a knock which head coach Gary Stead called “special”.
New Zealand are touring without regular skipper Kane Williamson, who is sidelined with a knee injury sustained in the Indian Premier League, while several others are busy honouring franchise commitments in that tournament.
Chapman played the last of his seven ODIs against Scotland in July last year.
Sustaining the prolific run against Pakistan’s formidable attack would boost his selection chances for the one-day World Cup in India later this year, but Chapman is not thinking that far ahead.
“To be honest, I haven’t really thought too much about that,” he said.
“We’ve got a five-match one day series ahead of us. That’s our primary focus at the moment.”
Blacks Caps looked in deep water at 73-4 in reply to Pakistan’s 193-5 but Chapman and all-rounder Jimmy Neesham, who scored 45 not out, combined to get the tourists over the line with four balls to spare and no further losses.
Little under the pump
It was New Zealand’s second highest successful run chase in T20s and all the more notable for being achieved by a weakened team led by a stand-in coach against a bowling attack that fired Pakistan to the final of last year’s World Cup.
“I think we were a little bit under the pump there after the first 10 overs of our innings,” Neesham told reporters in Rawalpindi.
“Myself and Chappy decided we’d either go down fighting and get bowled out or give it a good crack. I think Chappy batted outstandingly, he’s been hitting the ball beautifully over the last two or three weeks.
“To walk away from a series two-all against a very, very good team at home is pretty pleasing.”
Pakistan looked to be in a strong position to clinch the series after opener Mohammad Rizwan’s unbeaten 98 led the hosts to a decent tally.