Pakistan managed to erase the marks from their early exit in the Asia Cup with a Test series win over Australia and the T20I clean-sweeps over both Australia and New Zealand. The three-match ODI series, starting on Wednesday, will be first for Pakistan in this format since the Asia Cup debacle. This series will be crucial for the Asian side as they need to bounce back strongly after all the criticism they faced while struggling big time in the Asian championship.
On the other hand, New Zealand have to build the squad for the forthcoming World Cup after having missed international cricket for nearly seven months. In the absence of their premier opener Martin Guptill, the devastating Colin Munro has an opportunity to seal his place as the second opening option. The left-hander has struggled with consistency in the ODI cricket which he has shown while playing the T20I format.
The first ODI match between Pakistan and New Zealand will be hosted by the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. The match starts at 3:00 PM local time (11:00 AM GMT) (4:30 PM IST).
Last five ODI matches:
Pakistan: L, L, W, L, W.
New Zealand: L, W, L, L, W.
During the Asia Cup, Abu Dhabi produced scores around 250 but the international games that this venue hosted since then have been spinning tracks. Unless a new track is going to be used for the series, it is hard to see big scores in this ODI series as well. The big boundaries at this venue have always played a big factor in making things tough for the chasing sides while tracking down anything over 275.
Pakistan: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Haris Sohail, Sarfraz Ahmed (C & wk), Asif Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Usman Khan, Hasan Ali, Junaid Khan, Shaheen Afridi.
New Zealand: Colin Munro, George Worker, Kane Williamson(C), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, Tom Latham (w), Colin de Grandhomme, BJ Watling, Tim Southee, Todd Astle, Trent Boult, Ish Sodhi, Matt Henry, Lockie Ferguson, Ajaz Patel.
Pakistan: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (w/c), Asif Ali, Hasan Ali/Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan, Junaid Khan, Shaheen Afridi.
New Zealand: Colin Munro, George Worker, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, Tom Latham (w), Colin de Grandhomme, Tim Southee/Matt Henry, Todd Astle, Trent Boult, Ish Sodhi.
Imam-ul-Haq’s consistency could make him a crucial pick but it has to be seen how the opener performs against big teams. Imam failed to score runs in both games against India during the Asia Cup. The left-handed pacers Shaheen and Junaid could be crucial for Pakistan and Ish Sodhi and Trent Boult from the Kiwis’ perspective.
Best Playing XI:
Sarfraz Ahmed, Kane Williamson, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Ross Taylor, Colin Munro, Mohammad Hafeez, Shadab Khan, Trent Boult, Ish Sodhi, Shaheen Shah.
Captain and Vice-Captain Selection:
Babar Azam, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor will be reliable options for multipliers. Taylor’s recent ODI success and Williamson’s limited-overs form put them on top. Babar has a terrific record while playing in the UAE. Mohammad Hafeez is set to make a return to the ODI set up. He could fill up the role of the 5th bowler and will be batting at No.4/5 making him an obvious choice for captain/vice-captain.
Hasan Ali could be dropped due to his recent form if Pakistan decide to go with both left-arm pacers Shaheen Shah and Junaid Khan. However, Hasan’s ODI record might save him with the Pakistan team preferring him ahead of all-rounder Faheem Ashraf.
Pakistan could make a winning start in the ODI series despite their defeats this year against New Zealand and other teams in this format.
*Disclaimer: This team is based on the understanding, analysis and instinct of the author. While selecting your team, consider the points mentioned and make your own decision.
Give silent treatment to Kohli: Faf du Plessis’s advice to Australia
Mumbai : South Africa captain Faf du Plessis has urged Australia to give Virat Kohli who is currently the world’s top-ranked Test batsman, the ‘silent treatment’ as the two sides gear up to engage in a cricketing series from November 21.
The 34-year-old believes that their decision to avoided engaging Kohli during the three-match Test series against India earlier this year certainly played a key role in their 2-1 truimph.
“There are guys like that in international cricket (who enjoy the confrontation). We feel like that when we play against someone like Virat Kohli,” said du Plessis.
“He’s a similar character (to du Plessis), he wants to get into the fight.”
“There’s one or two guys in each team around the world that we as a team discuss before playing against them. We’re like, ‘better not say too much to him because you’ll get him going.”
“He’s an amazing player. We gave him the silent treatment and he still scored runs in South Africa, but we felt like it was not huge runs– he scored the one hundred there in Centurion when the wicket was slow.”
“So every team will have what they think works– for us, that was silent treatment,” he added.
Indian skipper Virat Kohli insisted that he had matured as a player and promised to not start arguments against the Australians, but only finish them during a media briefing before leaving for the Australia tour.
“If they (Australia) want to play a certain way, we will reciprocate,” said Kohli.
“That is how the game of cricket goes. But at the same time, in our own minds we have to keep it competitive.”
“We were always the ones giving it back, we were never the ones starting anything.”
“So long as it doesn’t start, we have no problem just focusing on our game and doing what we need to do,” he added.
India’s tour of Australia will commence on November 21 with the first T20 International between the two sides all set to take place at “The Gabba”.
Hardik’s absence will hurt, says Hussey
New Delhi: Mike Hussey, who has a fair idea about the current crop of India players, feels that all-rounder Hardik Pandya’s absence will “hurt” the visitors in the upcoming Test series against Australia. The series starts on December 6 in Adelaide.
Pandya is undergoing rehabilitation after suffering a lower-back injury during the Asia Cup in Dubai last September. “I think Hardik is a wonderful talent and I am sure his game style would have been suited to the Australian conditions. Add to that, the balance he offers the team with his all-round abilities, yes I think his absence will hurt India,” Hussey said.
India have a good chance of doing well against a depleted Australia but ‘Mr Cricket’ is confident that the home team’s seasoned bowling attack will test some of the younger batsmen in the visiting team. India are being dubbed as favourites in many quarters primarily due to the absence of Steve Smith and David Warner.
But India could face a different challenge with the likes of Prithvi Shaw, Rishabh Pant and Hanuma Vihari set to face Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon for the first time. “I do think India have a good chance as they have an excellent team with some very good fast bowlers. However, I think Australia’s bowling attack is world class and will challenge the Indian team, particularly the younger players in Australian conditions. Australia always play well at home and hence will be very hard to beat.”
Virat Kohli remains the biggest threat to Australia having scored four hundreds during the 2014-15 series and Hussey reckoned that the home team bowlers need to be patient against the Indian skipper.
“The Australians will prepare well against Kohli, but it comes down to execution. In my view the Aussies need to be incredibly patient and disciplined for long periods of time against a world class player like Kohli,” said the 43-year-old, who has played 79 Tests and 185 ODIs for Australia.
Brazil edge Uruguay after disputed penalty
London : Neymar scored a contested second-half penalty to give Brazil a 1-0 friendly win over Uruguay and bring some joy to their fans on a gloomy at the Emirates Stadium in London.
The forward was again the stand-out Brazil player and he coolly side-footed home his 60th international goal in the 76th minute after Diego Laxalt brought down Danilo, although Uruguay claimed there was a handball in the build-up.
Until then Brazil had looked the more vulnerable of the two sides with Alisson making three fine saves, including a superb stop from a Luis Suarez free kick early in the second half.
It was Brazil’s fifth win in a row since they were knocked out of this year’s World Cup in the quarter-finals by Belgium.
“It was a tough game. Uruguay are always strong and very competitive,” said Brazil midfielder Walace. “We were patient and when the opportunity arose from the penalty spot we deserved the goal.”
On a dark and drizzly night at Arsenal’s ground in London, the game matched the weather with few bright moments.
Many of the players know each other well from club football and their familiarity was evident in their hugs and smiles before, during and after the game.
There was no lack of commitment, however, as niggly tackles flew in a clash that featured eight yellow cards, including one for Luis Suarez who thought Uruguay should have been given a handball against Danilo before he was felled in the box.
Although the fans had little to cheer, both managers had reason to be happy with youngsters Bruno Mendez and Mathias Suarez starting in defence for the first time for Uruguay and Napoli midfielder Allan making a second-half debut for Brazil.
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