Must-win match for Pakistan to keep ODI series alive against Black Caps
DUNEDIN, New Zealand – Pakistan have shown in the past – not least at last year’s ICC Championship Trophy – that they should never be underestimated, but the visitors have it all to do when they take on a rampant New Zealand outfit in the third ODI of a five-match series at Dunedin on January 13.
Kane Williamson’s side have beaten Pakistan reasonably comfortably in the first two rain-affected matches to extend their winning streak to 10 matches across all formats. Another victory for New Zealand at the University Oval would set a new national record.
The hosts have Colin de Grandhomme available again after the dynamic all-rounder suffered a family bereavement but it would be no surprise to see them stick with the same team that served them so well at Wellington and Nelson.
The skipper Williamson will be the key wicket for Pakistan. He was dropped early in his innings by his opposite number Sarfraz Ahmed in the first match of the series at the Basin Reserve and went on to register his 10th ODI century. Martin Guptill, too, will be an important scalp. The hard-hitting opener has made a welcome return to form in this series, with scores of 48 and 86 not out, and if he bats for any length of time he could take the game out of sight, particularly with Pakistan’s batting unit struggling in seaming conditions.
Those struggles may lead to changes. Fakhar Zaman, the breakout star of Pakistan’s victorious ICC Champions Trophy campaign and top scorer with 82 not out in the first ODI at Wellington, is likely to return at the top of the order after a thigh injury, with 22-year-old left-hander Imam-ul-Haq expected to miss out after scoring just two in Nelson. The all-rounder Haris Sohail is also pushing for a place, with Shoaib Malik potentially vulnerable having failed to make an impact so far in the series.
Keep an eye out for Pakistan’s teenage leg-spinner Shadab Khan. The 19-year-old is wicketless so far in the series but may find the slower surface in Dunedin to his liking.
Pakistan(probable): Azhar Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (cap, wk), Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir, Rumman Raees.
New Zealand(probable): Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson (cap), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham (wk), Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Todd Astle, Tim Southee, Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult. –ICC