Pakistan would have hoped for an encouraging commencement to their tour as far as the Cricket is concerned following a testing period of stay prior to the first game. However, the visitors were pretty much outplayed by a second-stringed New Zealand T20I outfit in the series-opener. Things could have panned out much worse for Pakistan had their lower middle-order not come to the fore and rescued the team. With that opportunity grassed, it is only going to become tougher for the tourists from here on as some of New Zealand’s gun players return to the team for the remainder of the series.
New Zealand registered a comprehensive victory in the first contest at Eden Park. Mitchell Santner led a relatively inexperienced side with several exciting youngsters looking to leave his mark on the selectors. One of them was Jacob Duffy – the lanky fast-bowler who ripped open Pakistan’s top-order in his international debut for his country. Mark Chapman, batting in the middle-order, was immensely impressive and played a vital role in swinging the momentum back in New Zealand’s favour when it could have ended up in Pakistan’s territory.
Tim Seifert, who has had a testing period at the top of the order for New Zealand, also returned to form – scoring a well-made half-century in relatively quick time. With Kane Williamson returning from his paternal leave, both Devon Conway and Glenn Phillips will possibly shift down the order for Sunday’s game. Tim Southee, Kyle Jamieson, Trent Boult, and Daryl Mitchell are all available again after being rested for the first game. It will be interesting to see which players will be sidelined for the 2nd T20I to make room for some of the senior statesmen. In any case, New Zealand are expected to play a decently balanced XI keeping in view their bid to strategize and prepare for the T20 World Cup next year.
New Zealand Expected XI: Martin Guptill, Tim Seifert (wk), Kane Williamson (c), Glenn Phillips, Devon Conway, Jimmy Neesham, Kyle Jamieson, Scott Kuggeleijn, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Trent Boult
Pakistan, on the contrary, were taken aback by the extra zip and bounce off the deck at Eden Park. They suffered a massive batting collapse in the early stages of the game and only the gargantuan effort from the lower middle-order took them to a below-par, competitive total. The absence of Babar Azam was noticeable at the top of the order as New Zealand troubled an inexperienced Pakistan batting line with good-length stuff. Mohammad Rizwan was promoted as an opener but laboured to a rusty, run-a-ball 17. The pair of Haider Ali and Abdullah Shafique also didn’t last long in front of an intimidating pace-bowling display by the hosts.
Pakistan pacers, barring Wahab Riaz, were terrific and piled pressure on New Zealand throughout the run-chase. If they had more runs to play with, Haris Rauf and Shaheen Afridi could have forced the game to the wire. They need support from Wahab, though, if Pakistan are to force this series into a decider at McLean Park on Tuesday. Despite losing the first T20I, Pakistan are not expected to tinker a whole lot with their playing XI. Faheem Ashraf’s cameo with the bat at the rear-end of Pakistan’s innings should warrant him a spot in the playing XI for the remaining of the series.
Pakistan Expected XI: Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Abdullah Shafique, Haider Ali, Mohammad Hafeez, Shadab Khan (c), Khushdil Shah, Imad Wasim, Faheem Ashraf, Wahab Riaz, Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf
Hamilton’s Seddon Park has boasted batting-friendly conditions in white-ball games in recent times. Teams batting first have won five out of nine T20Is played at this venue. Slight showers are expected throughout the day and the game could be affected by persistent delays.