Dev Tyagi ∙ Apr 14 2023, 4:22 PM | 4 Min Read

Will New Zealand Hit Rock Bottom or Channelise the Inner Inspiration in Pakistan?

image-lggfdcpjA B-String New Zealand will begin their Pakistan tour on Friday (AP Photo)

Miles away from the captivating world of the Indian Premier League, two of the vastly competitive forces in world cricket are about to lock horns in a T20I and ODI series that are bound to offer a clear roadmap to both in the big preparation for the men’s ODI World Cup.  

Among them, is an exciting force that’s perhaps as capricious as it is dangerous on any given day. To some, it’s India’s numero uno rival, but to the rest of the world, it’s Pakistan. 

And the other is a team that could really care no less about why much of the world conveniently doubts it as the perennial underdog of the game when in reality, it’s a force of its own. 

Truth be told, surprising and even dramatic results could perhaps be in the offing as a team perpetually trying it be it’s best is all set to contest with another that’s perhaps quietly among the very best in men’s cricket. 

But a thing must be said in no uncertain terms. 

Pakistan will begin the series as clear favourites against New Zealand that have the enormity of youth on its side, if not necessarily the much-needed high-stakes experience that could really come through. 

Stunning and entirely unforeseeable results notwithstanding, you do need some of the most recognised and high performing names on your side when you play a competitive side. 

Perhaps even more so when you’re competing several miles away from home comfort at a destination where you really haven’t played an awful of cricket as is the case with New Zealand travelling to Pakistan. 

Which is why to many, it’s pretty clear that New Zealand begin their brand new white ball series against Pakistan on the back foot.

And can you even blame the opinion makers given there’s no Kane Williamson this time around, a man widely considered among the best batters in the world and by good measure. 

Forget not that Devon Conway, their most prominent white ball player and where the last two season stand, also their most consistent, is occupied in the IPL. 

Furthermore, given New Zealand’s most striking and trailblazing bowler Trent Boult is bolstering his Rajasthan Royals outfit instead of the national side, it seems an attack that though has Matt Henry and Blair Tickner, appears rusty. 

Fortunately for New Zealand, who are also without Glenn Phillips this time around, there’s a vital quartet of batters in Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Tom Blundell and Daryl Mitchell. 

Their task is cut out. They must dig deep and find the scores to challenge an opponent that will flex its muscles being clearly the more balanced of the two sides.

Meanwhile, Latham, the leader of a fairly young brigade, who previously scored a personal best of 42 in Karachi but missed out in the other two ODI’s, is due for a promising series. 

The classy batter who’s one of the most promising run scorers must lead by an example, given it’s pretty clear that he’s the first choice captain for New Zealand for the rest of the year heading into the ODI World Cup minus Williamson. 

New Zealand will also experience some relief with the presence of the vastly talented Rachin Ravindra, all of 23, who’s hardly played much for the national side but given his patient, match saving inning in the 2021 Test (vs India), demonstrated enviable calmness under pressure. 

Though, blazing stokes and runs collected hurriedly will come to matter for these aren’t any Tests this time around. 

What we have from the Trans-Tasman region is a side high on capability if not massive white ball experience being shouldered by an avid scorer in the game. 

But what we have on the other is a side massively experienced in sheer contrast and one that has a keen score to settle with the Kiwis. 

So how’s that?

The last time around, New Zealand actually won the Karachi-bound ODI series by a margin of 2-1. 

Babar Azam and his exceedingly talented team would like to leave nothing to chance this time around. 

Further bolstered by the presence of the returning Shaheen Shah Afridi, clearly amongst the most strikingly successful fast bowlers in the white ball formats, Pakistan will field an attack that already looks a bit more probing for Kiwi comfort. 

There’s Haris Rauf and there’s also Shadab Khan, two habitual wicket takers and game turners. 

With the return of Shan Masood and Haris Sohail, although with only 33 T20I’s between them, Pakistan are going to perhaps wage an all- out attack against Latham’s understated unit. 

On his own, one game changing inning by the very gifted Babar Azam, 735 T20I runs from 2022, could corner New Zealand. 

Given the King of the cover drive has 6 white ball games in which to further cement his position as one of modern cricket’s most staggering batsmen offers an exciting prospect to the fans to witness some really fine cricket. 

But which team will be able to really scratch the surface and come up with something inspiring rests in the lap of the imminent future. 

That’s something that can’t be predicted right now with any dosage of success whatever. 

For cricket is played by exceptional talents, not soothsayers.