Monday, March 21, 2016

Pakistan Battle for Survival against a Rampaging Kiwi Team

Group 2: Pakistan Vs New Zealand, #WT20 2016 at Mohali - Match Preview

New Zealand and Pakistan are two teams who are having a polar opposite time at the ICC WT20 2016. While New Zealand have thrived and prospered under new skipper Kane Williamson, Pakistan suffered a convincing loss against arch rivals India. The loss has jeopardised Pakistan's chances of making it to the semi final stage. New Zealand, on the other hand has tasted two victories against India and Australia and are almost through to the last four barring any calamity.

The Pakistan batting, which showed glimpses of their prowess against Bangladesh crumbled against India in the face of pressure. They need men like Hafeez, Malik and Akmal to provide the spark in the batting. Shahzad and Sarfaraz must also take greater responsibility if the above key men fail to deliver.

The Kiwi bowling has hummed nicely even without two of their most potent bowlers on Southee and Boult but one or both of them might return at Mohali, a ground which traditionally favours the quicker bowlers. They already have McClenaghan and Milne who will provide raw pace while the left arm spin off Mitch Santner has also strangled the opposition in both the games that New Zealand have won so far.

The Black Caps batting to had left a bit too be desired but on pitches which are as alien to them as any they will encounter, they have mannered to apply themselves better than their opponents. Williamson had been a calming head at the top which allows players like Guptill, Munro and Anderson to go ballistic at the other end. The experience of Taylor and the firepower of Ronchi have also served them well thus far. Then there is the ever improving Mitch Santner who can be rock solid or enterprising depending on the situation.

They will be up against a very good Pakistani pace attack comprising of Amir, Irfan, Wahab and Sami who will certainly be hoping that the Mohali pitch lives up to its reputation of being helpful to the faster bowlers. They also have Afridi who was very good against Bangladesh but might not get much purchase from the pitch in Mohali.

It promises to be a keenly contested match between two teams who will be eager to get a win under their belt, New Zealand so that they can seal their semi final spot and Pakistan so that they can stay in contention for the same. Another thing of interest in this match will be the captaincy of Williamson and Afridi - while Williamson has seamlessly taken over from Brendon McCullum, Afridi seems to be struggling and is under huge pressure to perform especially after the loss to India.

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