The New Zealand team looks in good shape ahead of the ODI opener against Pakistan at Wellington on Saturday. Coming off the back of comprehensive victories against Islanders West Indies, the Kiwis will look to continue the sublime form against the subcontinent rivals.
Although Pakistan will face an uphill task to adjust to New Zealand conditions, the squad boasts of a good batting depth with the likes of Fakhar Zaman, Azhar Ali and Babar Azam. This will be the first time Pakistan’s star opener Fakhar Zaman will be touring the nation.
And speaking ahead of the match, New Zealand bowling spearhead Tim Southee has picked Zaman as his bunny for the series. The fast bowler was of the view that Zaman’s inexperience in New Zealand would be a challenge for the batsman, who marked his name in international cricket after a sensational batting display at Champions Trophy.
Speaking to NZ Newswire, the year-old Kiwi speedster was quoted saying, “He (Zaman) is obviously an exciting player, who likes to get on with it. Hopefully, we can change that record he’s got.” He added, “It’s a great start to his international career but he’s never toured New Zealand, so there are a few challenges for him to adapt to different conditions.
New Zealand has warmed up for the series with a series against Windies. Colin Munro has hit form while Martin Guptill is back in the squad. Kane Williamson stays key as always, while Tom Latham has settled into the middle order quickly.
Though the hosts boast of a formidable attack, they have to be careful of Pakistan’s lethal bowling attack. Hasan Ali’s meteoric rise and Mohammad Amir’s return to the fold gives skipper Sarfraz Ahmed the belief that they can keep New Zealand batsmen in check in tough conditions. Shadab Khan’s ability to trouble the batsmen gives the attack the edge while Rumman Raees and Faheem Ashraf will be expected to play support cast.