Any idea pointing towards Pakistan’s obliviousness of the September tour cancellation will be a dilemma. The euphoric win against India was a detached incident for Pakistan as the country, in their jollity, did not forget the tragic last-minute withdrawal of the Kiwis citing ‘security issues’. The newly spurred rivalry with New Zealand could most probably be transpired into a well-crafted victory and the ‘security issues will thus resolve. Experts have cited five reasons justifying Pakistan’s dominance over the ‘insecure’ Kiwis.
You would be wrong if you think that amid the euphoria of the victory over India, what New Zealand did in September would be forgotten.
The unilateral last-minute pull-out from what would have been a drought-breaking tour of Pakistan is still fresh on the minds of every Pakistan cricket fan. Black Caps cited a ‘security threat’ as the reason for abandoning the tour but refused to share any specific details. This absurd turn of events turned ‘nice guy’ New Zealand into public enemy number one of the cricketing world.
Since then, calendars across Pakistan had October 26 crossed with red highlighters. That day is today. It means that while New Zealand will take the field to play a cricket match, a cricket match will be just one of the many things playing on the Green Shirts’ minds. They might want to give more than their 100 percent to avenge the setback inflicted on Pakistan cricket by their counterparts from Down Under.
Out of form, out of practice Kiwis
Thanks (or no thanks) to their abandoning of the Pakistan tour, New Zealand lost out to some valuable practice before the World Cup.
They last played a competitive T20 match back at the start of September against Bangladesh. That means it’s been almost two months since the Black Caps were in action in a T20I.
Compounding their misery is the fact that they lost both the warm-up games they played. It makes the Kiwis arguably the worst prepared side in the competition.
Williamson’s elbow injury
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson is carrying an injury, which has only been rated as a “niggle” but since it’s in his elbow, a part integral to hitting big, this could be a problem for the Kiwis.
He has managed to resolve the problem in the past but it surfaced again in the warm-up defeat to Australia. For a batsman, such an injury can prove to be very uncomfortable, and give another edge to the Men in Green.
Shaheens on rise
It’s one thing to beat a top side, it’s totally another to bring the most favorite side in the competition to their knees. This is what Babar Azam and co did, and as it happens in boxing with lineal championships, they should now be the team to beat and new tournament favorites.
The Kiwis tonight will be up against a side that made Virat Kohli’s superstar-laden India side eat the humble pie. Conventional wisdom says if they can do that to India, just imagine what they could do to New Zealand.
Pakistan and New Zealand have faced each other 24 times in T20I format, with Pakistan winning 14 and New Zealand 10. The stats give New Zealand a winning percentage of just 41.66 against Pakistan, who won 58.33pc of their T20Is against the Blacks Caps.
There is a clear edge associated with the Men in Green here and it shows how comfortable they feel against New Zealand in the format.