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|Colin de Grandhomme||3.0||0||24||1||8.00|
|Colin de Grandhomme||6||6||0||0||100.00|
The cricketing schedule nowadays is so jam-packed that having a team out of action for around seven months is unheard of. However, that's been true for New Zealand who last played International Cricket back in April 2018. They're now set to resume their international campaign with a 3-match T20I series against Pakistan beginning on Wednesday at Abu Dhabi. Pakistan, on the other hand, have not only played a lot of matches in recent times but have also had a splendid run in the tournament. New Zealand have some fantastic limited-overs specialists and it will be interesting to see how those guys gel together after such a long break.
In recent times under the leadership of Sarfraz Ahmed, Pakistan have apparently mastered the art of winning games in the most unpredictable format of the game. They are on a winning streak of 10 matches and have lost only four of their last 29 matches. Their recent whitewash over Australia speaks volumes about their form with bowlers doing most of the damage.
Pakistan have appeared to be very disorganized in ODIs, but have displayed completely different characteristics in the shortest as well as the longest format of the game. They emerged victorious in the red-ball Cricket against Australia and then topped it off with a series win against the same team. Babar Azam has been one of their most successful batsmen this year averaging just under 73 in nine matches. Despite being very orthodox, he's been very consistent while maintaining a healthy strike rate. Pakistan's overall batting performance depends a lot on his performance.
With Azam perfectly capable of playing the sheet anchor's role, their middle order can express themselves with the likes of Asif Ali, Shoaib Malik, and the skipper himself all naturally aggressive players.
Their bowling is something they've always been proud of and their performance does justice to that. Despite UAE's conditions not being super-conducive to bowling, it was remarkable how Pakistan was able to wrap Australia up on multiple occasions in the recently concluded series. Hasan Ali and Shaheen Afridi were mighty effective and were ably supported by Faheem Ashraf in the pace department. Shadab Khan has been brilliant with his leg-spinners and is second-highest wicket taker in 2018. To add to their already potent bowling attack, they have the services of Imad Wasim who literally knocked Australia out twice in two matches.
Babar Azam, Sahibzada Farhan, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Sarfraz Ahmed, Faheem Ashraf, SI Wasim, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi.
It's never easy to be playing after such a long gap, but the Kiwis have been playing competitive Cricket in different domestic leagues across the globe and have put up some really strong performances. On top of that, a rest of around seven months is a good luxury to have in modern-day Cricket.
Although Martin Guptill has been ruled out of the series due to calf-strain, New Zealand have a really strong top-order. The likes of Colin Munro, who was player of the tournament in CPL, and Glenn Phillips at the top of the order, they are well and truly capable of getting off to a start which can put any bowling attack under the pump. Kane Williamson's leadership, as well as batting abilities, were seen by one and all in Indian Premier League where he was amongst the highest run-getters and played a vital role in taking his team to the final. Ross Taylor adds to the experience and provides stability to their middle order.
While the Kiwis might not really miss Martin Guptill, the absence of left-arm spinner, Mitchell Santner could really hurt them. He was their consistent performer with both bat and ball and hasn't recovered from knee-injury he sustained earlier in the year. They've included 30-year old Ajaz Patel and with Ish Sodhi alongside him, they've got their spin department covered. Lockie Ferguson, Colin de Grandhomme, and Tim Southee will shoulder their pace department and the presence of all-rounders in Corey Anderson and de Grandhomme alongside the experience of Williamson, Southee, and Taylor makes them a very balanced side.
GD Phillips, Colin Munro, KS Williamson, Colin de Grandhomme, Ross Taylor, Corey Anderson, Tim Seifert, Adam Milne, TG Southee, IS Sodhi, Ajaz Patel.
Pakistan won all three matches against Australia while defending and the two teams might just take those three results into consideration and chose to bat first after winning the toss.
Read our guide on toss predictions to learn how we analyze and come up with our tips.
It's expected to be a warm evening with the surface a bit conducive to bowlers. There are no chances of rain and we are expected to get a full game of Cricket. It will get tougher to score with the older ball and the powerplays will be the best time to bat. As seen in the recently concluded series, anything over 160 will require a big effort to chase down.
It's always tough for a team to be playing after such a long break, but the fact that Kiwis were playing competitive Cricket regularly in between might just work better for them. Although Pakistan have won most of their T20 matches this year, they haven't really beaten a top-seeded nation. New Zealand have always performed some of its parts and Kane Williamson himself has been in exceptional form. The Kiwis have a terrific batting lineup and we think that they'll just edge Pakistan in the upcoming contest.
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