About the Match
After crushing Sri Lanka to a humiliating series defeat in the recently concluded test and one-day matches, New Zealand gears up to face Pakistan in a 3-match T20 series followed by a 3-match ODI series with the 1st T20 scheduled to be held at Auckland on 15th January. While the Kiwis are looking extremely confident in their game and will use this opportunity to shape their team for the World T20 in March, Pakistan is emerging as a strong unit after overcoming their internal player issues. The contest will surely test the strengths of the teams and whichever side can put up an all-round performance as a unit will emerge victorious here on Friday.
Kane Williamson will take over as captain of the T20 squad which will feature strong batsmen like Grant Elliott, Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Ross Taylor and Williamson himself. Munro’s outstanding 50 off just 14 deliveries against Sri Lanka in the 2nd T20 last week proved that he is a strong asset in the batting line-up; Guptill, Williamson and Taylor also came good with the bat and will continue to come out all guns blazing here.
On the bowling front, Mitchell Santner has been very successful with his spin bowling while Matt Henry, Trent Boult, Mitchell McClenaghan and Adam Milne will provide a ruthless pace attack that is surely geared up to outsmart the Pakistani batsmen. Elliott has been providing regular breakthroughs with his medium-paced bowling and brings variety to the attack; legspinner Todd Astle lines up for his T20 debut in the upcoming series and is eager to impress the crowds here.
They have a strong batting top order which provides explosive starts to the innings and a good middle order that can keep the scoreboard ticking; the bowlers have been at the top of their game and they can put up stiff challenges to the visitors in the coming days.
Mohammad Amir has 23 wickets to his credit in the T20 format of the game and picked up 14 wickets during the Bangladesh Premier League held last month. Along with Wahab Riaz, Anwar Ali and Aamer Yamin, Mohammad Amir is expected to stifle the opposition with his pace bowling skills. The spinners include Sohaib Maqsood, Shahid Afridi, Saad Nasim and Shoaib Malik, who have been providing regular breakthroughs with their wicket-taking abilities.
In the batting line-up, Ahmed Shehzad, Umar Akmal, Sarfraz Ahmed, Shoaib Malik and Shahid Afridi bring immense experience to the table; their versatility could help them overcome the Kiwis provided they keep their nerves together. Mohammad Hafeez can be instrumental in getting the big runs under pressure while Mohammad Rizwan will be useful in the middle order along with others like Iftikhar Ahmed.
They have quite many all-rounders in the squad but need to stay focused to improve their performance in the T20 format, which has not been so great in recent outings.
New Zealand is running high with confidence after their brilliant series win against Sri Lanka; although Pakistan will fight hard, we feel that the Kiwis are clear favourites to win the match