He was selected in New Zealand's squad to play a One Day International and Twenty20 International series against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in October and November 2009. Although he was not selected in the ODI series, which New Zealand won 2–1, he made his international debut when he kept wicket in the first Twenty20 International in Dubai, which New Zealand lost by 49 runs. After showing strong form for the Knights in domestic cricket, Watling replaced Peter Fulton in New Zealand's squad for the third Test against Pakistan in December 2009.Watling opened with Tim McIntosh and they provided some uncharacteristic stability to New Zealand's opening partnership. Watling, however, was out caught after an opening stand of 60 runs. In the second innings, Watling hit an unbeaten, quickfire 60 runs from 62 balls, his first half century in Test cricket. Watling and McIntosh made an opening stand of 90 before rain ended play and any New Zealand hopes of victory.