Match: New Zealand v Pakistan, 9th Match of ICC World Twenty20, Group C. Venue: Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, Kandy, Sri Lanka Date & Time: Sunday, September 23rd, 2012, 15:00 PST / 10:00 GMT (subject to monsoon rain)
Overall Rivalry: Leading; Pakistan 5 wins New Zealand 3 wins Momentum in the last 5 encounters: Edge; New Zealand -3 Pakistan-2
Weather Report: Partly cloudy. High of 30 degrees Celsius. Strong breeze from 20 to 30 km/h. Rain is expected on Saturday night. Hopefully, Sunday will remain clear but it can get wet in Kandy during this time of the year.
22 Yard Report: The first game of Group C was played at the same venue where Bangladesh won the toss and elected to field. Three out of four toss winning decisions at this ground have taken the same route but the team batting first has won four out of four games. The pitch will assist faster bowlers but the ball will come onto the bat. Additionally, with Brendon McCullum’s century in the first game and Pakistan’s chasing record, the captain who wins the toss may choose to bat first.
Game On: Pakistan has played two practice games in typically unpredictable fashion. They executed a clinical chase against India in the first match and fell flat on its face in a much easier pursuit against England in the second. It is normally difficult to predict which Pakistani team will show up on a particular afternoon.
Before Pakistan has really begun its journey in Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Afghanistan are already on a flight back home. Pakistan is the only team that has still not played an official game in a tournament, thus, will have no momentum behind them. Perhaps the group of death with three test teams competing will provide the much needed kick to the World T20.
If New Zealand wins this encounter they will qualify for the Super Eight stage while Pakistan’s next game versus Bangladesh will become a knockout match. If New Zealand lose, the result of Pakistan versus Bangladesh will hold potential elimination of any of the three teams in Group C.
Pakistan has come into this tournament as the most successful team in previous World T20 competitions. Saeed Ajmal, Umar Gul and Shahid Afridi are the top three wicket takers in T20Is but they will need their batsmen to back them up with some respectability. In three previous competitions, Pakistan have been winners, runners-up and semi-finalists.
Even after their roaring success, Pakistan comes into the 4th edition of the cup with its fourth different captain in the space of five years.
New Zealand will look to seal their fate and not depend on the result of the last game between Bangladesh and Pakistan while Hafeez’s men would not want to go into their last game under pressure. The wounds received from Ireland five years ago in the West Indies under similar circumstances are still fresh.
Game Changer: Even after Hafeez’s insistence that conditions will be seamer-friendly, spin kings Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Hafeez and Shahid Afridi will be key to the match. How the New Zealanders are able to tackle the trio will be very important in posting or chasing a good total. The three men not only contain runs but are wicket taking options for Pakistan under all conditions.
Pre-Game Talk: “I am satisfied with the preparation of the team and we are ready for the big challenge. We know conditions here suit seamers so we are not going to rely on our spinners alone. We also have good seamers led by Gul so we will have a balanced combination for a winning start” Hafeez is upbeat before Pakistan’s first game.
“Hafeez and Ajmal have got very good records in the last 12-18 months. We have had an insight into the wicket and the confidence from the way we played on Friday, we’ll hopefully take that also” Ross Taylor is well aware of Pakistan’s spin threat.
Last XI Fielded New Zealanders: Martin Guptill, Rob Nicol, Brendon McCullum (wk), Ross Taylor (capt), Kane Williamson, James Franklin, Jacob Oram, Daniel Vettori, Nathan McCullum, Tim Southee, Kyle Mills.
Last XI Fielded Pakistanis (warm-up): Mohammad Hafeez, Imran Nazir, Nasir Jamshed, Kamran Akmal (wk), Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Yasir Arafat, Raza Hasan, Mohammad Sami, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal.
Possible Changes: New Zealand have been forced to make one change after Martin Guptill’s hamstring injury. He is likely to replaced by BJ Watling. Pakistan have tried different combinations in the lead up to the game. Sohail Tanvir could get the nod ahead of Mohammad Sami as the second seamer while Abdul Razzak should be preferred over T20 specialist Yasir Arafat. Hasan Raza has shown potential but it will be difficult to fit him in the squad at this stage without breaking its balance.
Did You Know? -Mohammad Hafeez is the joint holder of an unflattering record of three ducks in consecutive innings in T20Is.
- Shahid Afridi has won the most T20I Man of the Match awards with 7. Brendon McCullum with 6 awards is right behind him.
-Umar Gul (24 bowled), Mohammad Hafeez (five caught and bowled), Shahid Afridi (10 LBWS) and Saeed Ajmal (17 stumped) have set the world record for dismissal frequencies.
-Brendon McCullum made the highest score in T20Is with his 123 versus Bangladesh earlier this week. His 158* in the first ever IPL match remains the highest individual score in all domestic T20 matches.
-Shahid Afridi and Lasith Malinga hold the joint record 27 wickets in World Twenty20 followed by Umar Gul with 26 and Saeed Ajmal with 23 dismissals.
-Nathan McCullum is New Zealand's leading wicket taker in T20Is with 37 wickets. Daniel Vettori is trailing him by 2 wickets.
-“Stumped Akmal, Bowled Ajmal” is the most common bowler fielder combinations in T20Is. This has happened 12 times with butter fingers taking just 1 catch off Ajmal.
Final Words: We look forward to a game of New Zealand versus Pakistan and not Pakistan versus Pakistan. Hopefully the self destruct button will be left behind at the team hotel in Kandy.