Super 8 Fantasy News

[Cricket] Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE 2018 – Series Preview

After creating T20I history on Friday 26th October 2018 by winning their tenth consecutive series in a row, Pakistan will turn their attention to another important tour as they host New Zealand for a full series in the UAE beginning 31st October 2018. Pakistan beat Australia in the second Twenty20 International to clinch the three-match series 2-0 after the Aussies succumbed to 136/8 in 20 overs chasing a total of 147/6. The third T20I, though a dead rubber will be played on Sunday 28th October and will see the Aussies playing for pride and also trying to figure out their combinations before the all important South Africa and India home series starting shortly.

The New Zealand series originally slated to be played in Malaysia will see three Tests, three ODIs and three T20Is played between October and December 2018. Pakistan have been forced to play their “home” matches in the UAE since terrorists attacked the bus of the visiting Sri Lankan team in March 2009. Although Pakistan have hosted a few international matches between 2015-18, Australia and New Zealand refused to visit the country due to security fears. Australia have not toured Pakistan since 1998 while New Zealand’s last tour was in 2003.

Series Timeline
In February 2018, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) looked at the possibility of hosting this series and Australia’s tour in Malaysia instead of the UAE, due to domestic Twenty20 fixture congestion in Sharjah. In May 2018, the PCB invited New Zealand to play the fixtures in Pakistan. In June 2018, the PCB and the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) agreed to play Pakistan’s future matches in the UAE. In July 2018, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) confirmed that they had declined the PCB’s offer to play the T20I fixtures in Pakistan because of security concerns. Therefore, all the matches on the tour would take place in the UAE as scheduled.

October 31st, Wednesday – 1st T20I
Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi, 09.30pm
November 02nd, Friday – 2nd T20I
Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai, 09.30pm
November 04th, Sunday – 3rd T20I
Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai, 09.30pm

November 07th, Wednesday – 1st ODI
Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi, 04.30pm
November 09th, Friday – 2nd ODI
Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi, 04.30pm
November 11th, Sunday – 3rd ODI
Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai, 04.30pm

November 16th, Friday – 1st Test
Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi, 11.30am
November 24th, Saturday – 2nd Test
Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai, 11.30am
December 03rd, Monday – 3rd Test
Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi, 11.30am

Pakistan enter the series after a disastrous Asia Cup but successful Australia series on similar tracks which should make for an excellent match-up. Apart from opener Fakhar Zaman who has topped the batting charts for the current year and is also the first player to score a double-ton in limited-overs cricket during the one-day series against Zimbabwe earlier this year, Shoaib Malik and Babar Azam also have been in decent form. Pakistan played well in England and drew the two-match Test series before blanking Australia. The side is certainly going through a transition phase after retirements of bigwigs like Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan but new boys like Haris Sohail and Imam-ul-Haq have done well in a short span of time. Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq are bankable players for Pakistan in Test cricket as well. Pakistan had also thrashed Zimbabwe 5-0 before the Asia Cup and Australia series.

New Zealand last played a test series against Pakistan in UAE in 2014. The visitors produced a spirited performance and drew the three-match series 1-1. New Zealand have decent players in their batting lineup in the format with Tom Latham and Henry Nicholls cementing their place in the XI by producing credible performances over the past 18 months. Jeet Raval has been fairly steady as an opener too for a team that managed to beat England in the two-match Test series played at home earlier this year. 

In this day and age, it’s a surprise that a team can go seven months without playing international cricket. However, that’s the case with New Zealand, who played their last game in March-April 2018. They will end the drought with the three-match T20I series against the No. 1-ranked Pakistan in the UAE. It’s not as if the players have been taking it easy though. Many of them, including Colin Munro, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor and Ish Sodhi were part of various franchises during the Indian Premier League or Caribbean Premier League. Also, New Zealand A were involved in a three-match T20 series in Dubai where they defeated Pakistan A 2-1. Players like Glenn Phillips, Corey Anderson and Mark Chapman were part of that team.

New Zealand is one team that has fought hard despite the obvious lack of resources and they showed that even on their tour of India where they performed reasonably well in 2017 before closing out the series. The issue for New Zealand could be they are coming out of a barren period, i.e. they haven’t played too many matches heading into this series, which is why there could always be a rustiness problem. 

Above all, New Zealand have struggled in the T20 format – having won just three games out of ten played in 2018. Kane Williamson will need to find form as he has struggled in T20s over the past 12 months. He has only scored 191 runs from 12 games at an average of 17.36. The Kiwis will need Williamson to raise his game if they harbour any dreams of upstaging Pakistan especially in the shorter formats of the game. There is little doubt that Colin Munro is New Zealand’s premier player in the format and will be keen to produce something special for New Zealand in the upcoming T20 series.

No.1 ranked Pakistan has been in excellent in the shortest format of the game. The green shirts have notched up 11 wins out of 13 played since Jan 2018. The culmination of the T20I series will be followed by three-match one-day series that will begin from 7th November. The other two games will be played on 9th and 11th respectively.

New Zealand last played one-day cricket in February when they competed against England in the five-match one-day series. Kane Williamson and co. will be keen to continue their good run of form in the format. New Zealand completed a 5-0 clean sweep over Pakistan in a one-day series played at home. They will have a decent chance of winning the one-day series against Pakistan, who recently played poorly in the Asia Cup. Ross Taylor has been in tremendous form in the limited-overs format and will certainly be a key player for New Zealand in the coming series. Since Jan 2018, he has scored 478 runs from 8 matches at an average of 78.83 with two centuries to his name. Kane Williamson has also produced decent numbers with the bat for the current year so far and has scored 440 runs from 9 matches at an average of 55 with two centuries to his name.

New Zealand have named all their squads for the tour, including uncapped spinner Ajaz Patel in the Test match line-up for this series. Reigning Domestic Player of the Year Ajaz Patel, who was born in Mumbai is the only fresh face in the 15-man Test squad led by Kane Williamson. 

After picking up 48 wickets from nine matches at an average of 21.52 and helping the Central Stags to the Plunket Shield title last season, Patel is in like to make his Test debut in October against Pakistan. With Mitchell Santner still recovering from his knee injury, the Black Caps went with a trio of spinners in Todd Astle, Ish Sodhi and, Ajaz Patel.

In the ODI squad, BJ Watling makes a comeback and could play his first ODI since December 2016 while Trent Boult has been rested from the T20I squad. The 15-man ODI and T20I squad only has 13 names as the remaining two players will be picked after taking into consideration their performances for New Zealand A in UAE.

Opening batsman Martin Guptill has been ruled out with a calf strain, selector Gavin Larsen confirmed on Friday (October 19th). Guptill, who was named in both the T20I and the ODI squads, suffered the injury while preparing for Auckland’s Plunket Shield match against Central Stags.

New Zealand
T20 Squad: Kane Williamson(c), Mark Chapman, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, Seth Rance, Tim Seifert, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Corey Anderson, Glenn Phillips
ODI Squad: Kane Williamson(c), Todd Astle, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Colin Munro, Henry Nicholls, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, BJ Watling
Test Squad: Kane Williamson(c), Todd Astle, Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Jeet Raval, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling

T20: Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Sahibzada Farhan, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Hussain Tallat, Sarfraz Ahmed (c & wk), Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Usman Khan Shanwari, Hassan Ali, Imad Wasim, Waqas Maqsood, Faheem Ashraf

Pakistan Probable Squads
ODI: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (c,wk), Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir, Shaheen Afridi
Test: Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Azhar Ali, Haris Sohail, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed(c)(wk), Bilal Asif, Mohammad Abbas, Mir Hamza, Yasir Shah

New Zealand will present a stiff challenge to Pakistan as Kane Williamson and co. have been playing well across all three formats over the past 18 months and we can expect a series much closer than what we saw with the Australians, for whom it was their first Test series since the infamous ball-tampering row during the Cape Town match against South Africa in March.

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