Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Can New Zealand stop an upbeat Pakistan?. Pakistan come into the game after a memorable win over India
Pakistan come into the game after a memorable win over India
This should have been the sixth T20I between the sides in just over a month. Instead, it'll be the first in 308 days.
On the eve of the game, Kane Williamson was asked if this would be a “grudge match” for Pakistan. New Zealand's tour pull-out last month, after all, has threatened to offset decades worth of efforts by Pakistan, who have been trying hard to sell themselves as cricket's safe place again. The repercussions were felt almost immediately; England called off their visit, not just leaving international cricket's future in the country uncertain but also shaking up Pakistan's preparations for the T20 WC.
So Pakistan instead focused inward on the National T20 Cup while the IPL contractees, including 9 out of New Zealand's squad of 15, squinted their eyes in the UAE heat and soaked in whatever they could of the playing conditions. But all it's taken is a Super 12 game to acknowledge that Pakistan's preparations, which perhaps involved more hours of quarantine than actual cricket, was after all just fine. Their groundbreaking rout of India, coming despite no international or IPL cricket in over two months, has meant that they have emerged as the team to beat in Group 2.
Of course, New Zealand know how it feels. Starting off by beating hosts and big-leaguers India is a massive campaign boost at any World Cup, and Kane Williamson's side showed it as recently as the last T20 edition in 2016 — overcoming India's famous spin and Nagpur's infamous long boundaries en route to a stellar run to the semifinal. One of the teams they upended on the way was Pakistan, but the roles are reversed come 2021.
And so are Pakistan, much more bright-eyed and bushy-tailed after their win over India. Opening their campaign against them will be a tough grind for New Zealand; and to beat them at venues which hit closer than home perhaps even tougher.
When: Pakistan vs New Zealand, 19th Match, Super 12 Group 2, 7:30 PM IST
Where: Sharjah Cricket Stadium
What to expect: A slightly better pitch than anticipated. The Sri Lanka-Bangladesh and Afghanistan-Scotland fixtures have shown that there are runs for the taking on these pitches, which at least now haven't slowed down to the extent seen during the IPL. So expect teams to prefer chasing and utilize the dew and the short straight boundaries.
Head to Head: Pakistan 14 – 10 New Zealand. Kane Williamson's side has lost six of the seven T20Is they have played against Pakistan in the UAE. The last time these two sides met, Mohammad Rizwan's 59-ball 89 set up a Pakistan victory in a dead rubber in Napier but it didn't come without a few bated breaths and a stutter.
Injury/Availability Concerns: Everyone is available for selection but it's unlikely that Pakistan will change a winning combination.
Tactics & Matchups: Pakistan sneaked in two quiet powerplay overs from Imad Wasim against India but against New Zealand, they would be tempted to go with Shadab Khan. The legspinner has a favourable matchup against Martin Guptill, dismissing him 3 times in the 18 balls he's bowled at him.
Probable XI: Babar Azam(c), Mohammad Rizwan(w), Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Afridi
Injury/Availability Concerns: Kane Williamson, who did not bat in the second warm-up match, has said that his flared-up elbow is still a “work in progress.” New Zealand will play 4 games in 8 days later in the Super 12s and coach Gary Stead conceded that managing Williamson's workload through that week could come into the picture.
Tactics & Matchups: Both Williamson and Stead have hinted at having a flexible line-up that could adapt to the varied challenges of the three venues. Stead went as far as saying that NZ might “throw the odd thing back at the opposition which they perhaps think might not happen.” With that in mind, expect a few surprises. Daryl Mitchell opened in one of the warmup games but expect either Tim Seifert or Devon Conway to at least start alongside Guptill at the top.
Probable XI: Martin Guptill, Tim Seifert(wk), Kane Williamson(c), Devon Conway, Glenn Phillips, Jimmy Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Daryl Mitchell/Todd Astle, Lockie Ferguson, Ish Sodhi, Trent Boult
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What they said
“We had a meeting earlier where we highlighted the importance of really staying grounded. Last night was a massive win for all boys, make no mistake about it, but we've also got a tournament obviously at hand and the boys will stay focused. Today's talk was really about putting last night behind us and focus on what's obviously to come tomorrow. Tomorrow's going to be another big game. And hopefully the boys will reset and be ready and focused for tomorrow”– Vernon Philander, Pakistan bowling coach
“I think Pakistan have come to the T20 WC full of confidence, having played in these conditions more than most. They certainly put it on show last night and showed why they're one of the favourites in the competition” – Kane Williamson, New Zealand captain