Published: 17th Dec,2020
Apart from Babar Azam being ruled out, Pakistan are also scratching their head over vice-captain Shadab Khan’s fitness.
Even before they boarded the flight to New Zealand, Pakistan lost Fakhar Zaman, who was still recovering from a fever. Thereafter, quite a few COVID-19 cases threatened to play spoilsport, but the tour is finally set to get underway with the first T20I, scheduled to be played on December 18 at the Eden Park in Auckland.
At the very venue, Pakistan have beaten the Kiwis in two out of three T20Is. But the Men in Green have a few concerns to deal with. Babar Azam misses out due to a thumb injury, and vice-captain Shadab Khan’s participation in the opener is also doubtful as he’s recovering from a groin injury.
As far as the Black Caps are concerned, they would be missing out on a few players, who would join from the second game onwards. But the fact that they beat the West Indies would keep them in good stead.
Pitch and Conditions
The pitch in Auckland has been an absolute belter for batting over the years. Another high-scoring affair seems to be on the cards under the lights. Teams might opt to bat second as the track isn’t expected to change much during the course of the contest.
The temperature will be around the 20 degrees Celsius mark. The humidity will be in the low-70s, but not much of cloud cover.
Playing Combinations for NZ vs PAK
Martin Guptill, Tim Seifert (WK), Devon Conway, Glenn Phillips, Mark Chapman, James Neesham, Mitchell Santner (C), Scott Kuggelejin/Doug Bracewell, Todd Astle, Ish Sodhi, Blair Tickner
Bench– Jacob Duffy, Doug Bracewell/Scott Kuggelejin
Abdullah Shafique, Haider Ali, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hafeez, Imad Wasim, Faheem Ashraf/Hussain Talat, Mohammad Rizwan (WK), Usman Qadir/Shadab Khan, Wahab Riaz/Haris Rauf, Mohammad Hasnain, Shaheen Shah Afridi
Bench– Usman Qadir/Shadab Khan, Wahab Riaz/Haris Rauf, Hussain Talat/ Faheem Ashraf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Muhammad Musa
Probable Top Performers for NZ vs PAK
Glenn Phillips- New Zealand
Glenn Phillips, prior to the Kiwis’ series against the West Indies, had played 13 T20Is in which he managed a mere 162 runs. But the 24-year-old showed his class in the second match of the series at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui.
There he hammered 108 runs off 51 balls with 10 fours and as many as eight sixes. The youngster will be looking for another knock of substance going forward.
Haider Ali- Pakistan
Haider Ali has come up the ranks in the last 12 months through some sparkling knocks. He impressed one and all while playing for Peshawar Zalmi in the 2020 edition of the Pakistan Super League.
In his short T20I career, comprising of four matches, the Attock-born has scored 154 runs with two half-centuries. His top score of an unbeaten 66 came against Zimbabwe. The youngster will be looking to carry on with his form.
NZ vs PAK Head-to-Head
Played – 21 | New Zealand Won – 8 | Pakistan Won – 13 | Tie/NR – 0
In New Zealand
Played – 9 | New Zealand Won – 5 | Pakistan Won – 4 | NR – 0
Average score: 175 (22 completed T20Is played at the SCG)
Record of chasing teams: Won- 9 | Lost- 10 | Tie/NR – 3
Match timings – 07:00 PM local time, 11:30 AM IST
TV – Sony SIX
Live Streaming – Sony LIV