Twenty20 internationals (3): New Zealand 2, Pakistan 1
Test matches (2): New Zealand 2 (120 pts), Pakistan 0 (0 pts)
Pakistan's tour almost ended before it began, when six of their 53-strong touring party tested positive for the Covid-19 virus on arrival at their managed isolation hotel in Christchurch. The six were moved to the quarantine arm of the facility, and the New Zealand government issued a threat of expulsion because the tourists had flouted the rules: CCTV footage at the hotel showed them breaching social-distancing protocols, mingling in hallways, and not wearing masks. Radio phone-ins and social media blazed with indignation, since Pakistan's cricketers had been given special permission to enter the country.
Ashley Bloomfield, the normally mild-mannered director-general of health - and the public face of the pandemic response - condemned the behaviour. "It is a privilege to come to New Zealand to play sport," he said. "I take a dim view of what we've seen already, and we'll be taking it very seriously." New Zealand Cricket said: "We will be having discussions with the tourists to assist them in understanding the requirements." That prompted former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar to mark out his long run on YouTube, claiming NZC should be indebted to his compatriots for agreeing to tour: "You are talking about Pakistan, the greatest country on the planet, so behave yourself." Yet New Zealand's caution was reasonable: thanks to the government's "go hard, go early" approach to lockdown, and public diligence, the virus had been kept at bay. They wanted to keep it that way.
Eventually the ire subsided, and the tour began, albeit after Pakistan altered their warm-up schedule to play a series of intra-squad games in Queenstown, rather than New Zealand A in a four-day match. Dominant performances from Tim Seifert then ensured New Zealand wrapped up the T20 series after two of the three games; he finished with 176 runs at a strike-rate of 139. Jacob Duffy's four for 33 on debut at Auckland, and Devon Conway's 63 from 45 balls in the dead rubber at Napier - the tourists' only win - underlined their potential. For Pakistan, the batting of Mohammad Rizwan and Mohammad Hafeez provided highlights, while Fahim Ashraf produced the lowest economy-rate - 5.51 - of anyone to bowl more than four overs.
In the Tests, two players split the match awards as New Zealand rose to the top of the world rankings for the first time. The 6ft 8in Kyle Jamieson interrogated batsmen from a good length, then terrorised them with short-of-a-length deliveries, regularly jarring glove against handle. The pace and bounce at Hagley Oval made him often unplayable in the Second Test, when he took 11 for 117. By the end of a series that brought him 16 wickets at 11, he had 36 in six Tests at 13 apiece, and was yet to finish on the losing side. He was also averaging 56 with the bat.
Meanwhile, Kane Williamson's appetite for runs remained unsated: making good use of a prototype swivel-leave to keep his bat and gloves clear of traffic in the fourth-stump corridor, he collected 388 at 129, including a century and a double. At Mount Maunganui's Bay Oval, he entered during the first over, and made the greentop seem a red herring. Williamson had 24 Test hundreds by the end, equalling Greg Chappell, David Warner, Mohammad Yousuf and Viv Richards, and passed 7,000 runs.
Rizwan again led the way for Pakistan, this time as skipper after Babar Azam broke a thumb before the internationals began. Three half-centuries demonstrated his pluck, as did a fifth-wicket stand of 165 in the First Test with Fawad Alam, who made a century. The partnership gave the visitors a flicker of hope of hauling in a target of 373 during the final session, but New Zealand extinguished those ambitions with 4.3 overs left. By the time the tourists left, the talk was of cricket rather than the coronavirus.