Creating history requires outstanding performance. And that is precisely what Pakistan achieved in their encounter against India, winning by ten wickets in a match that they were not even favourites to win before the game began. With Pakistan’s victory, Group B of the competition is now officially open. Cricket news suggests positive updates for the team from the Asian subcontinent.
Pakistan are currently the leading candidates to win the group, and a victory in their next encounter may be the last nail in the coffin. New Zealand, on the other hand, is yet to play a match and will be hoping to get off to a winning start. New Zealand’s campaign in the World Cup will begin with the match against Pakistan. They will want to be solid with the cricket bat.
Sometimes brilliant, sometimes idiotic, and always surprising – this has been Pakistan cricket’s tale throughout the years, and we got to witness the genius portion of it only a day ago. Pakistan began their World Cup campaign in spectacular fashion, not just winning over India but also making a statement.
Pakistan had some serious concerns to overcome before embarking on their tour, and based on their performance in the first match, it is safe to say that they did so flawlessly. Pakistan will be full of confidence heading into their forthcoming matches, and it will be intriguing to watch how they do against other teams with quite different characteristics.
Pakistan’s victory against India was largely set up by Shaheen Shah Afridi’s furious opening performance, in which he dismissed both Indian openers without giving anything away. The other bowlers and spinners did well to maintain the pressure as Pakistan constantly looked forward when India batted. With the exception of Hasan Ali, who played well but proved to be a little pricey, there isn’t much that Pakistan did wrong in their encounter against India. Indeed, we saw them fielding and catching superbly, which had not been the case before in the World Cup.
Although we didn’t get to witness how Pakistan’s middle-order bats, they’d want to maintain it that way in the forthcoming encounter. On paper, Pakistan has a strong middle-order with players like Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, and Shoaib Malik. They also bat deep, with Shadab Khan ready to bat at nine, which may be very handy if things go tight.
Overall, Pakistan’s victory against India not only astonished everyone, but it also established them as strong contenders to finish first in the group. They’ll be trying for a victory here to take control of the game. Furthermore, they have a fantastic record in this format when playing in the UAE, and their familiarity with the circumstances can only benefit them. Beating them will be really tough if they do not get complacent or do something stupid.
We haven’t seen New Zealand play many T20I matches in recent years, so they’ll have to hit the ground running. They did play in the warm-ups, which would have helped them get a feel for the circumstances; nevertheless, playing against a team coming off a huge victory is a whole other task.
New Zealand, like Pakistan, did have a majority of players who did not participate in the Indian Premier League, and although this may aid them with weariness, immediately recognising the conditions may be a difficulty. That was evident in their two warm-up matches, in which Australia and England beat them by three wickets and 13 runs, respectively.
One thing we can be confident of when it comes to the Kiwis is that they will not go down without a fight. With Martin Guptil back and playing well, they now have much-needed experience in the batting order, and all they will need is support from the younger guys. Kane Williamson’s job will be critical in not just acting as the sheet anchor, but also in accelerating towards the finish of the innings.
On the bowling front, New Zealand seems to be in good shape. On their day, the likes of Lockie Ferguson, Tim Southee, and Trent Boult can cause problems for even the greatest in the game. Furthermore, they have a good group of all-rounders who are capable of not just containing the run flow but also picking wickets.
Overall, New Zealand has a solid team on paper, and considering their track record in previous ICC tournaments, they cannot be overlooked. Beating them will be a massive task if they are able to become accustomed with the circumstances and start the ball moving soon.
Pakistan and New Zealand have played against each other in 24 T20Is. Out of which, Pakistan have won 14 and New Zealand have won 10.
It is a crucial contest for both teams for various reasons. In terms of advancement to the next round, a victory for Pakistan would put them comfortably ahead of the other teams in the group. New Zealand, on the other hand, would want to get off to a good start in order to remain on top of their game. Even though there isn’t much between the two teams based on their on-paper squad combinations, Pakistan are well ahead in terms of form.
Furthermore, they are more familiar with the circumstances than the Kiwis. For these and the other reasons listed above, betting on a Pakistan victory should be the way to go.
Date and Time:
October 26, 2021 (Tuesday), 3:30 PM IST
Sharjah Cricket Ground, Sharjah.