Pakistan's pacers expected to play a big part as the visiting side gets ready for five-match series
There will be spring in the steps of New Zealand when it takes on Pakistan in the first One-Day International of the five-match series at the Basin Reserve in Wellington on Monday (January 25).
New Zealand’s confidence stems from the way it emphatically wrested control of the Twenty20 International series to win 2-1. After Pakistan took the opening T20I, New Zealand’s batsmen went on a record-breaking spree in the next two matches, securing wins by ten wickets and 95 runs.
Despite missing some of its key players, New Zealand will be keen to replicate its success in the ODI series. Ross Taylor was ruled out after suffering a side strain during the third T20I on Friday. Tim Southee’s foot injury ruled him out of the ODI series against Australia as well. New Zealand will be led by Kane Williamson in the absence of Brendon McCullum, who is still recovering from a sore back and is not expected to be fit before the third ODI of the series.
Tom Latham, the opener, will be expected to step up in McCullum’s absence as he partners with Martin Guptill at the top. Colin Munro, who was rewarded for his quickfire half-century in the first T20I, will be keen to cement his spot in the middle order along with being a handy pace option. However, Luke Ronchi’s indifferent form in the last six months is a bit of a concern for the home side, who will replace him with BJ Watling, the wicketkeeper, for the second and third ODI.
The Basin Reserve pitch is expected to be full of runs with minimal seam movement due to the strong northerly winds, but both New Zealand and Pakistan have sharp attacks at their disposal.
While the New Zealand attack will be led by Trent Boult, along with Matt Henry, Adam Milne and Mitchell McClenaghan, Pakistan has a strong squad of quick bowlers to choose from, with Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz and Rahat Ali in the mix.
"Obviously we will try to put a combination together which suits these conditions and the wind factor. We've been practising bowling into it, everyone is ready," said Azhar Ali, the Pakistan captain, ahead of the match.
Irfan especially, with his height of 2.13 metres (7 feet), poses a challenge to New Zealand. “It's like batting on a trampoline. It's a different proposition," said Grant Elliott. “The height that he comes from is very different so it takes a little bit of getting used to. He's close to 7 feet and comes in and bowls at 140 clicks (kph), so it's exciting to face.”
Shahid Afridi and Umar Akmal have not been included in the ODI side, but Pakistan still have experience aplenty in their batting department, with Ali returning to lead the side comprising Shoaib Malik, Ahmed Shehzad, Sarfraz Ahmed and Mohammad Hafeez.
New Zealand may have the home and momentum advantage, but Pakistan will hope its famed unpredictability can hold it good stead to provide a positive start to the ODI series.
New Zealand: Corey Anderson, Trent Boult, Grant Elliott, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham (first two ODIs), Brendon McCullum (third ODI), Mitchell McClenaghan, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, Henry Nicholls, Luke Ronchi ( wk, first ODI), Mitchell Santner, BJ Watling (wk, second and third ODI), Kane Williamson (capt).
Pakistan: Azhar Ali (capt), Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Sohaib Maqsood, Zafar Gohar, Imad Wasim, Anwar Ali, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Wahab Raiz, Rahat Ali, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Amir.