Pakistan vs. New Zealand ODI Series Preview

The Black Caps have returned to the country after 18 years, with the first of 3 ODIs to be played on Sep 17, 2021.

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The three-match ODI series between Pakistan and New Zealand is set to start on Friday, 17th September at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium. Since the resumption of international cricket in Pakistan, New Zealand is visiting the country for the first time. The last time the Black Caps played cricket in Pakistan was in December 2003. This series was originally supposed to be part of ICC Cricket World Cup Super League 2023. However, the Decision Review System (DRS) is unavailable, and both sides have agreed to play the CWCSL matches during New Zealand’s scheduled tour of Pakistan next year.

New Zealand, the number-one ranked ODI side, will be fighting to retain their top position in the series, while Pakistan has an opportunity to enter the top 5 in the rankings. A clean-sweep done by the host team would mean that New Zealand will fall to the 4th position, while Pakistan will surpass South Africa and stand at 5th. Only a series win will keep the Kiwis at the top of the ODI rankings.

Venue

The Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium has been a paradise for batters in recent years. Since 2019, the average first innings score in the 14 List A matches played at the venue is 305. The fans awaiting the T20 World Cup will probably be able to see some glimpses of T20-style batting in the series. The Pindi Stadium also has the highest batting average and highest run rate (9.6) for any venue in the Pakistan Super League.

Head to Head

Overall, Pakistan has a win/loss ratio of 1.15 against New Zealand in ODIs. In Asia, it increases to 2.43, while in Pakistan, it further raises to 5.67. The credit of this amazing record goes to Pakistan’s successful performances before the last decade. Since 2010, New Zealand has been the superior side, winning 16 of the 25 encounters between both sides. Pakistan have not won any of the last five bilateral ODI series against them. Their last series victory against the Black Caps was in 2011 under the captaincy of Shahid Afridi.

Pakistan

Pakistan have played only three ODI series since the start of 2020. They have won two of them while they lost the most recent one against England. For the home series against New Zealand, Pakistan have announced a full-strength squad, unlike the Kiwis.

(Note: Mohammad Nawaz tested positive for COVID-19 on 9th September. He is in quarantine and not available for the series yet.)

Pakistan will have an opportunity in this series to develop and test its bench strength. A couple of players from the newcomers (Mohammad Haris, Mohammad Wasim Jr., Shahnawaz Dahani, and Zahid Mahmood) might get their first ODI cap for the Green Team.

Key Players

The number-one ranked ODI batsman, Babar Azam, is already among one of the greatest ODI batsmen from Pakistan. In his last 14 ODI innings, starting from the unbeaten 101 against New Zealand in the 2019 ODI World Cup, he has scored more than 1000 runs with an average and strike rate of 84.5 & 101.5, respectively. These 14 innings include five centuries. Babar also has a supreme List A batting record at the venue for the series.

Alongside Babar, Pakistan’s batting unit will be further strengthened by the likes of Fakhar Zaman, Iftikhar Ahmed, and Khushdil Shah. All three of them also have scored runs consistently at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium.

Batting Record in List A cricket at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium

Batsman

Inns

Runs

Avg

SR

100s

50s

Iftikhar Ahmed

19

1010

72.1

103

4

5

Babar Azam

8

575

82.1

103

3

2

Khushdil Shah

9

529

75.6

121

2

2

Fakhar Zaman

9

519

57.7

106

2

3

Shaheen Shah Afridi was the top wicket-taker for Pakistan in their last ODI series against New Zealand in November 2018. He has improved his bowling a lot across formats. Against New Zealand, he has taken 12 wickets at an average of only 10.8 in 4 innings. The left-arm pacer will be a major threat for the Kiwi batsmen in the series.

Concerns

The middle-order of Pakistan’s ODI side has not been able to contribute well in the last few series. Since 2020, the #5 and #6 batsmen have averaged below 15 with a strike rate of 68. The inclusion of Khushdil Shah and Iftikhar Ahmed in the squad is Pakistan’s effort to solve this problem.

Pakistan lost their last series against the English side with new faces. Players such as Lewis Gregory, Phil Salt, Zak Crawley, Brydon Carse, and Saqib Mahmood – who had played no or very few ODIs before – performed very well and earned victory for England. While it’s a home series for Pakistan this time, the uncapped Kiwi players might prove a surprise package.

Pakistan will be playing their first series after the resignation of head coach Misbah-ul-Haq and bowling coach Waqar Younis. The team might need some time to adjust under the new interim coaches Saqlain Mushtaq and Abdul Razzaq.

Probable XI

  1. Fakhar Zaman
  2. Imam-ul-Haq
  3. Babar Azam (C)
  4. Mohammad Rizwan (WK)
  5. Saud Shakeel
  6. Iftikhar Ahmed
  7. Shadab Khan
  8. Hasan Ali
  9. Haris Rauf
  10. Usman Qadir
  11. Shaheen Shah Afridi

New Zealand

New Zealand have only played 3 ODIs this year, beating Bangladesh 3-0 in a home series back in March. The Kiwi side, currently the best ODI team per ICC rankings, has not sent its first-preference squad to Pakistan.

New Players

Six players in New Zealand’s squad have never represented them in ODIs before. These are Finn Allen, Rachin Ravindra, Cole McConchie, Ajaz Patel, Blair Tickner, and Jacob Duffy.

Finn Allen has been among the best T20 batsmen in the last couple of years. His T20 strike rate of 171 is the best among batsmen with 1000+ runs. Allen has also produced brilliant performances for New Zealand U-19 in the Youth ODIs. In 17 matches, he averages above 47 for them with a 100+ strike rate. Rachin Ravindra is another batsman who has been a part of New Zealand’s U-19 setup. Ravindra could help in the bowling, too, with his left-arm-spin.

A proper left-arm-spinner among these is Ajaz Patel. He has represented New Zealand in the other two formats. Though his List A record is not great, he can prove very useful if the pitch offers some turn. Cole McConchie is an all-rounder who bats right-handed and bowls off-spin. He bowled pretty well in the T20I series against Bangladesh. Jacob Duffy and Blair Tickner are both right-arm pacers.

Key Players

Tom Latham is the most experienced player in New Zealand’s ODI squad. He has played more than 100 matches and has scored near 3000 runs. While his batting numbers in ODIs against Pakistan are not good, Latham is among his country’s best performers in the format in Asia.

Best ODI Batting Avg for a New Zealand Batsman in Asia (min 500 runs)

Player

Inns

Runs

Avg

SR

Tom Latham

21

749

46.8

87.5

Ross Taylor

47

1823

44.5

78.7

Kane Williamson

29

979

37.7

78.6

To tackle the strong top-order of Pakistan’s batting unit, New Zealand have a good weapon with the new ball in the form of Matt Henry. He has taken 20 wickets (@ 21.5) in 9 matches against Pakistan. Eleven of these 20 wickets are of the top-order batsmen. Henry has also done well in the Asian conditions, taking 21 wickets in 7 innings with an average of less than 22.

Concerns

A big concern for the Black Caps would be their poor record in Asia. While New Zealand have been among the best-performing sides outside Asia in the last ten years, they are among the worst-performing teams in Asia.

Win Percentage in ODIs in Asia since 2010 (Top 10 teams)

Team

Win %

Matches

Won

West Indies

29.1%

55

16

New Zealand

29.8%

47

14

Sri Lanka

47.9%

163

78

England

49.0%

49

24

Pakistan

49.5%

111

55

Afghanistan

50.8%

61

31

Bangladesh

51.3%

113

58

South Africa

54.5%

44

24

Australia

61.5%

52

32

India

68.3%

142

97

Probable XI

  1. Finn Allen
  2. Henry Nicholls
  3. Tom Blundell
  4. Tom Latham (C – WK)
  5. Will Young
  6. Colin de Grandhomme
  7. Cole McConchie
  8. Ajaz Patel
  9. Hamish Bennett
  10. Jacob Duffy 
  11. Matt Henry
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