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.
Would be sitting at home if I think like people from outside: Kohli
Mumbai: Virat Kohli said he would be “sitting at home if he thinks like people from outside”, responding, in his trademark combative style, to Gautam Gambhir’s recent jibe at him, but without taking the former opener’s name.
Gambhir, who led Kolkata Knight Riders to two IPL trophies in 2012 and 2014, recently said that in a result-oriented franchise environment, Kohli has been “lucky” to have survived despite Royal Challengers Bangalore never winning the coveted title in his eight years as skipper.
Asked about it, the batting maestro said, “Obviously, you want to win the IPL. I am doing what I am supposed to do. I don’t care whether I am going to be judged on this (not winning IPL) or not. There is no real, sort of, parameters you set. I try to perform wherever I can. I try to win all the possible titles, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen.
“We have to be practical about why we haven’t won one. That boils down to bad decision making in pressure situations. If I think like people from outside, I can’t even sustain five games. I would be sitting at home,” Kohli said.
According to Gambhir, one can’t say Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the same breath, as India’s current captain has not won the IPL even once in comparison to his predecessor’s three. Gambhir also compared Kohli with his national team deputy Rohit Sharma, who too have three IPL titles to his credit.
“I know people talk about it a lot and they like to grab opportunities to talk about these things. But I have a responsibility here and given a chance, as a captain, I would love to win the IPL for my team.
“We all are motivated to do so. It has not happened and that’s the reality. No excuses for that. Only acceptance of the faults that we made in the past. The fact that we played six semi-finals means that we have been a side who are always in contention. If we make better decisions, we can go further than that. That’s how I see things,” Kohli added.
The Indian captain was speaking on the eve of the IPL 12 opener between his team and Chennai Super Kings.
To a question if he felt RCB were the underdogs against CSK at home, he said every team that comes here has to be considered so, with the home team being led by Dhoni.
“MS knows exactly what he wants from his team in these conditions. We all have seen that and are aware of it. We are going to be backing our skills and then find ways to come out on top.
“It’s very easy to be overawed by the support that CSK are going to get. In the IPL, people can get carried away by the support that a team like CSK gets at home but we have to focus on our basics.”Kohli also said RCB’s focus this year would be on being consistent and scratching their way to wins.
“It again boils down to how much composure you have in crunch situations. If you see all the teams that have won, they have had players who have stood up and done the job.
“In the past, when we have been close to winning the title, we have just expected things to go our way instead of standing up. That is something we want to correct this season. If we look ugly, we look ugly. It doesn’t matter. We don’t want to be a side just playing flamboyant cricket. We want to be a consistent side,” Kohli said.
AIFF deny I-League clubs’ request to reschedule qualifiers
Mumbai: The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has denied the I-League clubs’ request to restart the 2019 Super Cup, Goal can confirm.
Nine I-League clubs had earlier informed the Indian FA that they are willing to take part in the Super Cup 2019 after AIFF president Praful Patel reached out to the clubs on Thursday and assured them that he will hold a meeting with them in mid-April.
After initially deciding to withdraw from the competition citing AIFF’s unfair treatment towards the clubs, the I-League clubs’ unison expressed their willingness to take part in the knock-out competition if all the clubs are allowed to take part.
However, as Goal reported earlier, matches given as walkovers cannot be replayed according to the regulations of the national cup competition. The AIFF has made it clear to the clubs that the regulations must be adhered to and that it would be unfair towards the opposing teams – Delhi Dynamos, FC Pune City and Chennaiyin FC – that took the field for the matches which did not take place.
Minerva Punjab, Gokulam Kerala FC and Aizawl FC failed to turn up for their Super Cup qualifiers on March 15 and March 16.
Due to the I-League clubs’ absence on the match days, the AIFF awarded Delhi Dynamos, FC Pune City and Chennaiyin FC wins by virtue of walkovers.
Neymar charged for ‘insulting’ referee in Man United defeat
London: Paris St Germain forward Neymar has been charged for “insulting and/or molesting” the referee following his post-game rant after the French side were knocked out of the Champions League last 16 by Manchester United, UEFA said.
Neymar, who was sidelined by injury, was investigated for lashing out and labelling the video assistant referee (VAR) system a “disgrace” after United won a controversial penalty in the dying stages to advance on away goals.
“Disciplinary proceedings have been opened following the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg match between Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United FC (1-3), played on 6 March in France,” UEFA said in a statement.
“Player Neymar Junior – insulting / molesting acts against match official (statements made by the player following the above-mentioned match) – Art. 15 (1) (d) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations.”
If the Brazilian is found guilty, he could be suspended for three matches in the competition for insulting match officials.
UEFA’s Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body will look into the case and a date for the hearing is yet to be confirmed.
PSG coach Thomas Tuchel had said after the game that he understood Neymar’s anger and defended his comments, saying they were made in the heat of the moment.
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