NEW ZEALAND IN UAE, 2018
Pakistan won the second game by six wickets. © AFP
From a harrowing 47-run defeat to a comforting six-wicket win in a span of 48 hours, there isn’t a better contender to pull off such an epic script than Pakistan. For only the second time in seven matches, Pakistan, on Friday, chased down a target against New Zealand in the UAE. The win not only helped the Sarfraz Ahmed-led side bring an end to an ignominious losing streak against the Kiwis but also saw them win an ODI against a side that is not named Zimbabwe, Hong Kong or Afghanistan in this calendar year.
After an emphatic victory, Pakistan have a chance to just clinch their second bilateral series win against New Zealand in the format in the past ten years.
They outclassed New Zealand in all facets of the game to level the series on Friday. Their pacers clicked early on, spinners bowled excellently to keep the Kiwi batsmen in check in the middle overs, and then finished off proceedings neatly to restrict the visitors to an achievable total. But what must have been heartening for them was their top-order obliging to Sarfraz’s calls of spending time at the crease. The top-three piled up nearly 3/4th of the target. However, both Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam threw their wickets on the verge of a century and a fifty in a Lockie Ferguson over.
The inability of his bowlers to make inroads until the 29th over will send Kane Williamson back to the drawing board to evaluate his bowling plans. The batting department showed signs of an impending disaster in the first ODI. It unfolded in the second. But, all is not lost as it provides Williamson an opportunity to have an honest conversation with his batsmen about their plans ahead of the crucial final.
When: November 11, 2018, 3:00 PM Local time
Where: Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai
What to expect: Another hot and humid day in the office. What else?
Pakistan: After suffering a blow on his helmet’s grille and being rushed to the hospital for precautionary CT scans and MRI, Imam ul Haq is under observation and will remain so throughout the eve of the final ODI. Pakistan were forced to make a change for the second game with Faheem Ashraf coming in for Junaid Khan, who was ruled out of the series due to a toe infection.
If Imam is deemed unavailable for the Dubai contest, Mohammad Hafeez can be bumped up to the opening position and either of Asif Ali or Haris Sohail can take his place in the middle-order.
Probable XI: Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Haris Sohail/Asif Ali, Sarfraz Ahmed (c&wk), Imad Wasim, Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi
New Zealand: Except for Ross Taylor, no Kiwi batsman looked completely comfortable. Those who scored in the first contest failed in the second. And, majority, save George Worker, who had been struggling in the UAE over the past month with New Zealand ‘A’, failed to negate the threat that the Pakistani bowlers posed.
They might be tempted to rest Tim Southee ahead of the three-match Test series which begins next week with the right-arm pacer playing all five matches on the tour so far.
Probable XI: George Worker, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Colin de Grandhomme, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult
Did you know?
Since he has made his ODI debut for Pakistan, Shaheen Afridi has the most wickets (12), the best average (17.58), and the best strike rate (21.5) amongst the Pakistani bowlers. Imagine how the figures would have looked had his teammates not dropped those six catches off his bowling.
Ross Taylor’s 91.28 is the second best ODI batting average this year behind Virat Kohli’s 133.55.
Pakistan have a win/loss ratio of 1.25 while chasing in Dubai. During their last tour of the UAE, Pakistan chased down New Zealand’s 247 on the back of Haris Sohail’s 85* here.