Saturday, January 30, 2016

Captain Fantastico McCullum Returns for the 3rd ODI against Pakistan

Pakistan Vs New Zealand - 3rd ODI, Eden Park, Auckland - Match Preview

Pakistan will clash with New Zealand in the third and the final ODI of the 3 match series which they lead 1-0. The match will be played at Eden Park, Auckland which is known for its short boundaries. But the short boundaries are often like a mirage and the scores have not been that high at the venue in recent times. Australia was dismissed for just 151 here which the Kiwis chased down only just and won by one wicket in the ICC World Cup 2015 while Pakistan defended 222 successfully against South Africa.

For New Zealand their talismanic and captain Fantastico, Brendon McCullum returns to the side after having missed the T20I and the ODI series till now. He is fit now after he had aggravated a back injury after slamming into the advertising hoardings during one of his superlative dives to save a boundary during the Sri Lanka series.

But on the other hand Martin Guptill might miss out after he rolled over his ankle during training. The Kiwi top order capitulated to 99-6 in the first ODI and they will look to make a more meaningful contribution this time around and leave it to the lower order to salvage the match for them. Kane Williamson, Grant Elliot and Corey Anderson all failed in the first match and will be eager to get a good score under their belt before the tough Australia series begins next week.

Far bowler Mitch McClenaghan will miss out after a short delivery from Anwar Ali had gone in through the grill and stuck him just above the left eye. Fast bowler Adam Milne might replace him in all probability. Trent Boult and Matt Henry will be the other fast bowlers for New Zealand.

Pakistan top order started extremely slowly in the first match and that played a big part in the middle order being under the escalating required run rate pressure all the time. Azhar Ali and Ahmed Shehzad have to ensure that they give a good start by scoring runs quickly and not lose early wickets. Babar Azam played a very mature innings of 62 off 76 balls and played confidently on a quick pitch. Pakistan might consider moving Sarfaraz up the order so that he is not stranded with the bowlers. Shoaib Malik might also return which will definitely provide solidity to the Pakistani middle order.

Irfan, Aamir, Anwar Ali and Wahab Riaz all bowled very well to reduce the Kiwis to 99-6 but they took their foot off the pedal which allowed New Zealand to stage a recovery. The Pakistani fast bowlers will be looking to make amends and their battle with the returning McCullum will especially be a fascinating one to watch.

The match promises to make for compelling viewing as both Pakistan and New Zealand will look to go hard at each other. New Zealand will want to win and continue their stellar unbeaten home record intact. Pakistan will want to leave the country on a high after securing a win and drawing the ODI series.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

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