Thursday, January 14, 2016

'Unbeatable at Home - Black Caps' face a tough new challenge

After routing Sri Lanka, the strong New Zealand side will face a fresh challenge when Pakistan go head to head against them at Eden Park, Auckland.

Both New Zealand and Pakistan will enter the series with a chance of becoming the number one ranked T20I side in the world. Whichever team achieves a clean sweep will topple West Indies from the top and gain the number one ranking. Apart from that, this series will be a significant step preparing ahead of the World T20 for both the teams. The upcoming matches will be the only T20Is both teams are scheduled to play. Therefore, neither team will like to miss the opportunity to gain some morale boosting victories.

New Zealand:

After crushing Sri Lanka, the Kiwis will look for similar results against Pakistan too. The departure of Brendon McCullum hasn’t affected the batting unit a lot. In fact, he has left behind his impression on the team which has displayed a whole new form of approach to their games. New Zealand has made only one change in the batting line-up by bringing in Tom Latham in place of Ross Taylor.
Taylor will be rested for the first game but will come back for the remaining two fixtures. However, the batsmen would certainly bear in mind that Pakistan bowling attack is far competitive than the inexperienced Sri Lankan attack they overpowered. New Zealand has also made a couple of changes in the bowling department keeping in mind the World T20 in India.
Todd Astle, the leg-spin bowling all-rounder, comes in place of their regular leg-spinner Ish Sodhi, who had a less impressive outing against Sri Lanka. Left-arm spinning all-rounder Mitchell Santner is the other slow-bowling option in this 13-man squad. Though they have kept the fast bowling core of Trent Boult, Matt Henry, Adam Milne and Mitchell McClenaghan intact. However, Kiwis will most likely go in with three pacers tomorrow.


Skipper Shahid Afridi will be leading the young Pakistan side against the Black Caps who currently look unbeatable at home. The task is tough but they have a side which is probably capable of facing the Kiwi challenge. Batting wise, Pakistan suffered a blow as Umar Akmal will be unavailable for the first T20I after he was slapped with a one-match ban for breaching the PCB’s code of conduct for not adhering to proper clothing guidelines during the Quaid e Azam trophy earlier this week.
However, the batting unit, which includes the likes of Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad and Shahid Afridi in the side, still looks very promising on paper. It will be a new start for Mohammad Amir, who will be making his return to international cricket after being banned in 2010. The 23-year old’s return will surely boost the Pakistan bowling attack which already has the formidable Wahab Riaz in their line-up. All-rounder Sohaib Maqsood and Anwar Ali and Mohammad Rizwan will also have important roles to play as well.


New Zealand:
Kane Williamson (C), Corey Anderson, Todd Astle, Trent Boult, Grant Elliott, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Mitchell McClenaghan, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, Luke Ronchi (wk), Mitchell Santner, Ross Taylor
Shahid Afridi (C), Aamer Yamin, Ahmed Shehzad, Anwar Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Rizwan, Saad Nasim, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Shoaib Malik, Sohaib Maqsood, Umar Akmal, Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz

Pitch and Conditions:

Eden Park, Auckland will play host to the first T20I. A high scoring game can be anticipated as the pitch will most likely be batting friendly. Shorter boundaries will also be an encouraging factor for the batsmen. The cloud cover and humid conditions will assist the bowlers.

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