Pakistan cricketer Sarfraz Ahmed. Image Credit: AFP

Abu Dhabi: Pakistan have plenty to worry about as they bid to stay afloat in the three-match ODI series against New Zealand, having lost the opener on Wednesday.

Their frontline batsmen were exposed by genuine pace and swing from Trent Boult and once his hat-trick broke their back early, they could barely recover and finished up 47 runs short in their chase of the Black Caps’ 266-9.

Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmad, however, is confident that his side can end their top-order woes in less than 48 hours and keep the series alive.

“I have full faith in our batsmen and we will definitely make a comeback in the next match,” said Sarfraz, who accepted that the top-order collapse was a worrying sign for the team that have now lost 12 matches in a row against the Kiwis since 2014.

“I said before also if we are playing against good sides then we have to get starts from the top-order batsmen. We will try to sit with the boys and talk on not giving away those early wickets. Had we not lost those early wickets, the situation would have been better.

“Our middle order is not brittle I would say, because it is always difficult to bat under lights. If your middle order batsmen are made to face new ball against top-quality bowling like the one New Zealand has, it will be difficult to survive for them.

Sarfraz put up a 103-run partnership with Imad Wasim and he felt Pakistan’s target was achievable.

“We had caught them and had reduced them to 208-7 and then we allowed to score 50 runs in the last five overs.” he said. “It proved costly for us. If we would have restricted them to 240 then the target would have been all the more achievable. However, once you lose three wickets in three deliveries it is always difficult to make a comeback from that situation.

“Their ODI team has a lot of experienced players who have been around for long. Their bowling attack have hurt teams more and today they hurt us. Trent Boult was simply exceptional. We will have to come back strongly.”

New dad Trent Boult was elated with his effort and said his new born had indeed brought some good fortune straight away.

“The lucky charm you can say. He must be watching the game in the early hours of the morning back home,” he said. “I haven’t caught up with them but I’m pretty happy.

“My role in the side is to run in and pitch the ball up, swing around and try to take wickets. We are always trying to take a couple of wickets up there in the first power play.

“It was nice to take a couple of wickets and put pressure on them. Then when the hat-trick ball came around, I was trying to make him play and try to hit the ball in the wicket. I trapped him (Mohammed Hafeez) front of the wicket with a bit of swing and it was a nice feeling.”

Boult was bowling well over the 140kph mark and he attributed it to time well spent in the gym.

“Probably four months off from cricket in winter and the summer pretty much starts for me here. It’s a big tour in the UAE and I’ll be back home for the New Zealand summer,” said Boult. “I had been doing the things that need to do to make sure my body is right, the rhythm came good tonight.

“Pakistan are a quality side. The big challenge is coming here and beating them in conditions like this. If we can come with the same kind of energy and bring in similar kind of game-plan, it will be a big one against a side like this. They have always been a strong side but we played some good cricket in the encounters.”