1st ODI Preview: Excited Pakistan face under-strength yet formidable New Zealand's challenge at home

Mayank Kumar

Mayank Kumar

Author| Sep 16, 11:08 AM

Image: Twitter
Image: Twitter

A lot of change has occurred in the world and world of cricket since the time New Zealand played their last game on Pakistan soil in 2003. But now, as they have set foot in Pakistan and will come up against them in the first ODI of the series, it would be some sort of watershed moment for Pakistan, as a cricketing nation. 

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has had some tumultuous time convincing cricket boards across the world to tour Pakistan after the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team and hence the tour by New Zealand—first by a contemporary big team in the world will be a defining moment for them.

“Finally, the day has arrived,” were the words of Pakistan captain Babar Azam while explaining the magnitude of the excitement of hosting New Zealand. 

Although the sides have excluded the series from ICC Qualifier for the 2023 World Cup, the “excitement” is palpable in both the camps as there are various contexts to the series with a big T20 World Cup to follow in the next month.

However, Pakistan would not be honest with themselves if they will not recognise that the Blackcaps are not at their full strength with many players missing the series due to the Indian Premier League, which they thought could provide equal preparation for the T20 World Cup.

New Zealand have struggled in conditions that were heavily stacked in the favour of spinners in Bangladesh right before the series and Babar Azam and his men would be banking on the spinners to do the job well to win the eight-match long ODI and T20I series. 

New Zealand, on the other hand, fought well and limited the loss to a margin of 2-3 and improvement in batting and emergence of consistent and quality spinners will also give them promise in the series.

Pakistan vs New Zealand: Match Details

Match - 1
Venue: Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi

Date and time: September 17, 2021, 3:00 PM IST, 2:30 PM PST

Pitch Report

The pitches at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium are known to be flat and aiding stroke makers. The two Kookaburra balls will also come in handy for the batsmen if they see off the first few overs of the game.

In the ODI series against Zimbabwe last year, batsmen made merry with the bat and piled on runs as bowlers struggled and the trend is likely to continue. However, there will be significantly better bowling will be on display from either side and hence batsmen’s impact could be limited.

Team News

Pakistan

The hosts have already announced their 12-man squad for the first ODI and included the likes of Iftikhar Ahmed, leg-spinner Usman Qadir in the team.

The trio of Shaheen Shah Afridi, Hasan Ali and Haris Rauf will head the pace bowling department while the onus of spin bowling will fall on the shoulders of leg spinners Shadab Khan and the newcomer Usman Qadir.

The batting department looks solid with Imam-ul-Haq at the top of the order with Fakhar Zaman who was in terrific touch earlier in the year against South Africa and Zimbabwe. Skipper Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan will give stability to the batting order while Iftikhar Ahmed, who is returning to the side for the first time since last year, will give flourish to the batting order.

Probable XI

Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan (vice-captain), Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Hassan Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Rizwan (wicketkeeper), Saud Shakil, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Usman Qadir.

New Zealand

New Zealand were handed another blow to their batting department as Tom Blundell was ruled out of the series after suffering an injury. 

The responsibility of the top order is likely to continue in the young hands of Rachin Ravindra, Fin Allen, and Will Young while the experienced duo of the skipper Latham and Henry Nicholls will provide stability to the batting order from the number five and six positions.

The emergence of new spin twins in Cole McConchie and Ajaz Patel, who ruled the show in Bangladesh will continue to search their domination against a better batting order led by Babar Azam in Pakistan.

There should be a toss-up between Ben Sears and Hamish Bennett for the third pacer in the side as Scott Kuggeleijn and Jacob Duffy are all but certain to be the two pacers. 

Probable XI

Finn Allen, Rachin Ravindra, Will Young, Tom Latham (C & WK), Henry Nicholls, Daryl Mitchell, Cole McConchie, Scott Kuggeleijn, Ajaz Patel, Ben Sears/Hamish Bennett, Jacob Duffy.

Fantasy XI

Tom Latham, Mohammad Rizwan, Babar Azam (C), Henry Nicholls, Fin Allen (VC), Fakhar Zaman, Rachin Ravindra, Shadab Khan, Ajaz Patel, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi. 

  • Babar Azam
  • Tom Latham
  • Finn Allen
  • Rachin Ravindra
  • Will Young
  • Henry Nicholls
  • Mohammad Rizwan
  • Haris Rauf
  • Shaheen Afridi
  • NZ vs PAK 2021
  • Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi

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