All about momentum: Depleted Black and beleaguered Green fight it out

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014 10:45:49 by

KARACHI: Pakistan will be looking to regain winning momentum as they take on a depleted New Zealand side on Thursday in the first T20I at the Dubai International Stadium.

After winning three consecutive Tests, Pakistan’s run has been curtailed by a draw and a trouncing defeat that saw them share the spoils in the Test series against the Black Caps.

New Zealand have rested their star players Brendon McCullum, Trent Boult and Tim Southee whereas Pakistan have drafted in in-form wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed with Umar Gul also returning after a long lay-off.

Former Test cricketer Basit Ali feels that Pakistan cannot take the Kiwis lightly, despite them resting their captain and two main strike pacers. “New Zealand will still be a very dangerous side because they have got good players for the T20 format and Pakistan cannot be complacent,” said Basit, while talking to The Express Tribune. “It’s important to gain momentum going into the ODIs and I think the team management is now trying to try out potential players for the 2015 World Cup in this T20 series as well.”

The hosts will be confident as both teams have locked horns nine times in the T20 format, with Pakistan having won six and losing only three. The sides have played two matches at the Dubai Cricket Stadium and both have been won by Pakistan. New Zealand’s only T20I victory on foreign soil against Pakistan came in 2010 in Bridgetown, Barbados.

In the nine fixtures between the two, absentee paceman Southee and Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi are the joint leading wicket-takers with 13 wickets apiece, followed by Gul and Saeed Ajmal, who have 11 and 10 respectively. Gul also famously claimed figures of 5-6 when the two sides met in the 2009 T20 World Cup, which was won by Pakistan.

The highest run-getter between the sides has been Scott Styris with 194 runs, followed by Muhammad Hafeez on 187, McCullum on 169 and Imran Nazir on 161.

Former chief selector Mohsin Khan called New Zealand’s decision to rest their key players ‘bold’ and said that it shows that they want to preserve their best athletes for the World Cup. “New Zealand have rested their impact players from this series, which shows the importance they are giving to the World Cup and that is really good man management,” said Mohsin. “They are not afraid of losing this series and want to make sure that their best players are in perfect shape come the 2015 World Cup.”

However, Mohsin added that Pakistan still cannot take things for granted because the Black Caps boast a good all-round side and being the better fielding side may hand them the advantage.

“I hope that Gul and Irfan are used cautiously, so that they don’t break down again because both can prove crucial in the World Cup,” he added.


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