The Financial Express

New Zealand to take on a high-spirited Pakistan today

Photo Courtesy: DNA India Photo Courtesy: DNA India

The Kiwis are set to start their World Cup campaign against an exuberant Pakistan in Sharjah tonight at 8.00 pm Bangladesh time. 

On the back of a comprehensive 10-wicket victory against India, Pakistan must be high in confidence to keep their momentum going. 

The bowling department, led by Shaheen Shah Afridi, must be buzzing to get into the field once again and replicate another clinical performance. 

The variety they possess in the form of left-arm seamer Shaheen’s ability to swing the new ball, Hasan’s and Rauf’s sharp pace, Imad Wasim’s arm ball, Shadab’s leg-spin, and experienced Hafeez and Malik’s part-time off-spin will be difficult for any batting lineup to deal with. 

Both their openers – Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan – have been in tremendous touch in the recent past, and the Pakistani fans must be hoping they can carry on their good form throughout the tournament. 

Apart from the battle on the field, there is also a different type of rivalry going on between these two sides as New Zealand pulled out of their tour of Pakistan at the eleventh hour. A win here can prove to be some sort of vengeance from Pakistan’s point of view. 

However, Kiwi skipper claims that they were as disappointed to miss the tour as the Pakistanis. 

“It was a really disappointing situation. I know the team that were there were very much looking forward to the occasion and playing cricket over in Pakistan, and it was a real shame that it wasn't able to go ahead,” he was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo. 

On the other hand, New Zealand have lost both their warm-up fixtures against Australia and England respectively. Being in a group consisting of India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, the Kiwis cannot afford to falter much in Super 12. It is time for them to pull up their socks and put up a good show right from the get-go. 

The senior campaigners, Martin Guptill and skipper Kane Williamson will have to score the bulk of the runs for the Kiwis to be in a commanding position. The find of the year Devon Conway also needs to shoulder the significant responsibility of ensuring a good start at the top order. 

The role of the spin twins, Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi, is going to be key in the Sharjah pitch. In fact, these two players have been the pick of the bowlers in their warmup games as well. 

These two teams have met each other 24 times in T20Is where Pakistan have the lead with 14 wins to New Zealand’s 10. In T20 World Cups, they have faced each other on 5 occasions, and once again Pakistan leads the battle with 3 wins to the Blackcaps’ 2. 

The writer is currently studying at the Institute of Business Administration, University of Dhaka (IBA-DU). 

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