Pakistan eye comeback in match against New Zealand
Shahid Afridi's injury-hit team face a massive challenge today against the unbeaten All Blacks
Pakistan will be desperately looking to ensure the painful defeat to India becomes a distant past when they run into an in-form New Zealand on Tuesday with an aim to bounce back into the World Twenty20 and pacify their bitter fans back home.
Pakistan are coming into the Group 2 Super 10 game having suffered their 11th defeat to the arch-rivals in ICC's world events. The 2009 champions entered the tournament after an early elimination in the Asia Cup.
Meanwhile, Pakistan fast bowler Wahab Riaz and batsman Mohammad Hafeez are doubtful starters.
Left-armer Riaz was hit by a ball on the head during a training session on Monday while Hafeez has pain in the right knee. The Pakistan Cricket Board says in a medical bulletin that Riaz was hospitalised and later given the all-clear. It adds that his fitness will be assessed on Tuesday. Hafeez had complained of knee pain for the last two days and the PCB says "it is likely that he would not be able to take part in the match against the Black Caps."
The New Zealanders are on a roll with two massive wins over hosts India and Australia, making them one of the strong contenders to lift the coveted trophy on April 3. Another win and they will be in the knockout stages of the mega event. New Zealand have emerged as the team to beat after the stunned tournament favourites India first up, before getting the better of traditional rivals Australia in a trans-Tasman battle. While the spinners stood out in both games with a bagful of wickets on pitches that aided turn, left-arm fast medium bowler Mitchell McClenaghan proved to be Australia's nemesis with a three-wicket burst in hilly Dharamsala.
McClenaghan aside, the likes of left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner, leg-spinner Ish Sodhi and Nathan McCullum troubled the Aussies as well as the Indians. The fact that skipper Kane Williamson has yet to give frontline pacers Tim Southee and Trent Boult a game in this tournament gives ample demonstrations of their depth in bowling. - Agencies
Considering the Pakistan batsmen's susceptibility against quality bowling, the Kiwi attack will definitely fancy their fancy their chances.
However, batting is an area New Zealand would do well to address.
Barring Corey Anderson and Luke Ronchi, the batsmen struggled against India. When Australia confronted them, Martin Guptill to-scored with 39, while Williamson, Colin Munro and Grant Elliott all got starts but could not go on to make a big one. - Agencies
As a result, the tournament is till to witness a half century from the blade of a New Zealander.
As far as the Pakistanis are concerned, they began the tournament with a convincing win over Bangladesh when the batting and bowling both clicked.
However, in the curtailed game against India at Eden Gardens, they buckled under pressure and Virat Kohli's batting masterclass.
Skipper Shahid Afridi was at his dazzling best against Bangladesh alongside the experienced Mohammad Hafeez. The bowlers too complemented in a big win. Afridi, who has faced criticism from various quarters back home for losing to India, will be eager to regain his touch.
They could not replicate their performance against a stronger India. Shoib Malik made valuable contribution with the bat but was profligate with the ball. Umar Akmal also made useful runs at a brisk pace.
However, after the early burst by Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Sami, the Pakistani bowlers failed to dislodge Kohli, who was well supported by Yuvraj Singh.