A 3-0 whitewash in the T20 series has given New Zealand plenty to think about heading into the one-day internationals. Pakistan once again asserted their dominance in the U.A.E. with a comprehensive series victory over the Black Caps in the shortest format. Decimated by injuries, New Zealand will struggle to compete with the men in green in yet another three-match series.
Pakistan will be licking their lips as they prepare to do battle with an under-strength Black Caps outfit who’ve had to call in a number of replacements for this ODI series. Pakistan’s last ODI saw them knocked out of this year’s Asia Cup in a shock-upset against Bangladesh in the super four stages of the tournament, not ideal given that the U.A.E. has been their home ground for a good period of time now. One thing to take out of the T20I series for Pakistan was the contributions made by Mohammad Hafeez and Babar Azam with the bat. After an impressive series against Australia in the T20’s, Azam and Hafeez carried that form into the New Zealand series where the pair led the way again for Pakistan. In their past six T20 outings, Azam has averaged 57.80 while Hafeez is averaging 81 in what has been a phenomenal return to International cricket for the 38-year-old veteran.
22-year-old opening batsman Imam-ul-Haq has been on fire in one-day cricket scoring three half centuries in the Asia Cup following up his back-to-back centuries against Zimbabwe in July. With Hafeez, Azam and Imam all in exceptionally good touch with the bat, New Zealand will find it extremely difficult to silence any given one of those three. This team has plenty of scoring outlets when it comes to batting, especially on these types of surfaces. Hasan Ali and Shadab Khan are the danger men with the ball in this series, particularly Shadab if the Black Caps can’t handle spin on these gripping-pitches. An man who can swing the ball both ways, seamer Hasan Ali will no-doubt cause some carnage at some point in this series with his trademark variations and ability to exploit reverse swing as the match goes on. Temperatures are expected to reach 33°C which should only work in Pakistan’s favour given the hot-climatized conditions they’re used to.
Hit with some major injury blows, New Zealand hobble into this ODI series with some key names absent from their team. A calf injury to destructive-opening batsman Martin Guptill ruled him out of the Black Caps tour of the United Arab Emirates, followed by the loss of all-rounder Corey Anderson who picked up a heel injury prior to the final T20 against Pakistan. If that wasn’t enough, leggy Todd Astle is in doubt for the first ODI with a knee “issue” and will likely miss. All of a sudden, the importance of Colin Munro and skipper Kane Williamson becomes significant as some makeshift-players enter the playing XI. Munro was brilliant in the first two T20’s against Pakistan, the 31-year-old had no problems whatsoever cracking the Pakistani bowlers to & over the boundary rope. A flamboyant batsman when in the zone, Munro is still yet to register an ODI century for the Black Caps despite having three tons to his name in T20 International cricket.
Kane Williamson’s got one of the best eyes in world cricket today, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s untouchable. The skipper will need support from the likes of Tom Latham, Ross Taylor and Henry Nicholls in the middle order if New Zealand is to weather the storm. The Black Caps will be made to work for their wickets out in the field, I can’t help but think that lightning-quick pace isn’t going to get the job done at Abu Dhabi. That’s where leg-spinner Ish Sodhi will be vital for the tourists, his record isn’t overly impressive but he can still make an impact on wickets that should offer plenty of turn. Tim Southee and Trent Boult are an excellent fast bowling combination, but on this sort of surface it’s anyone’s guess as to how responsive the pitch is to their seam bowling. Boult’s ability to move the ball around in any conditions might test the Pakistani batsmen early on, or pace on the bat could potentially work against the Black Caps.
Top 5 fantasy picks | Pakistan | 1st ODI | Abu Dhabi
- Mohammad Hafeez
- Hasan Ali
- Babar Azam
- Shadab Khan
Wildcard pick – Junaid Khan
Top 5 fantasy picks | New Zealand | 1st ODI | Abu Dhabi
- Kane Williamson
- Colin Munro
- Trent Boult
- Ish Sodhi
- Ross Taylor
Wildcard pick – Henry Nicholls
Pakistan (possible) – 1. Fakhar Zaman 2. Imam-ul-Haq 3. Mohammad Hafeez 4. Babar Azam 5. Shoaib Malik 6. Sarfraz Ahmed (c & wk) 7. Asif Ali/Imad Wasim 8. Shadab Khan 9. Hasan Ali 10. Shaheen Shah Afridi 11. Junaid Khan.
New Zealand (possible) – 1. George Worker 2. Colin Munro 3. Kane Williamson © 4. Tom Latham (wk) 5. Ross Taylor 6. Henry Nicholls 7. Colin de Grandhomme 8. Tim Southee 9. Matt Henry/Ajaz Patel 10. Ish Sodhi 11. Trent Boult.