Pakistan look to seniors to break New Zealand’s dominance

January 8, 2018

NELSON: Until the previous game, Pakistan enjoyed a nine-game winning ODI streak stretching all the way back to the Champions Trophy last June. So clinically were they beaten in the first ODI in Wellington, that it felt like Pakistan fans’ fears about it being a flash in the pan look to have re-emerged. It wasn’t entirely surprising, however; New Zealand at home pose a very unique challenge, and have been one of the form sides off late. But the loss in the opening game brought Pakistan back down to earth sharply, and it is crucial that they respond as soon as they can. The Saxton Oval on Tuesday would do just fine. New Zealand are bursting with confidence, their powerful bowling unit and explosive batsmen looking to capitalise on the run of good form. Everything looks to be going according to plan; the captain is in form, the openers have clicked, the middle order has done its job, and the fast bowlers have hit the deck exceptionally well. At the same time, New Zealand will be cerebral enough to appreciate the unpredictability of their visitors, and look to guard against complacency on their part. After all, Pakistan lost to India in their opening game in the Champions Trophy, before turning their form around to end up with the title. Pakistan would have been banking on their bowlers, but they were off colour in Wellington, with Mohammad Amir and Rumman Raees conceding 57 and 68 runs respectively. Hasan Ali did manage to take three wickets, but leaked too many runs, and the fearsome pace unit was comfortably outdone by New Zealand’s fast bowlers. While Pakistan will also look for their senior batsmen to stand up, supporting the younger lot is important, too. Fakhar Zaman was their only plus in a dispiriting first game, while Faheem Ashraf looked sharp in his little cameo before rain put paid to the game. The bowlers, meanwhile, need to shake off the rust to carry their weight.
New Zealand (probable): Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson (capt), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham (wk), Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Todd Astle, Tim Southee, Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult
Pakistan (probable): Azhar Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (capt/wk), Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali, Rumman Raees. Agencies