After the largely uncompetitive month feasting on a poor West Indies side, New Zealand step things up a notch from Saturday when they begin a five match ODI series against Pakistan with the first match coming from Wellington.
Although this is a five match series and that allows more wriggle room for a defeat both teams will be wanting to put a marker down in this opener. Both sides are in good form so we should be in for a competitive series.
I’m not wholly convinced what we can take out of New Zealand’s win over the West Indies in any of the formats but one thing it has done is keep their squad active and will have done no harm to their confidence either. If New Zealand have been looking for a spell of cricket to get the credit they deserve it is about to begin.
One of the reasons why New Zealand are so successful in this format of the game is their bowling attack. It offers no respite and they have enough players to be strong in any condition. I always think the amount of success they have depends on how their middle to lower order bat but they have all been in good form so far this summer.
There used to be a time when Pakistan would turn up somewhere away from home and be cannon fodder or if they were at home and in good form people would expect it to go wrong soon but those days look to be well behind us. They are the Champions Trophy champions and that victory looks to have done wonders for them as they are unbeaten in ODIs since.
As with New Zealand, the success of the Pakistan side in recent times has been the bowling attack they have. They have a seam unit who offer no respite and are aggressive and unlike some attacks they can keep the pressure on deep into the innings with their skills. As a result their batsmen have been able to play with more freedom which assists them.
New Zealand aren’t resting or rotating anyone for this match which means that Kane Williamson will return to the side as skipper here. Colin de Grandhomme is the only player who is not involved.
Pakistan are expected to go in with the same side which won the warm up match which means that Shoaib Malik will assist Shadab Khan in the spin department. They have a bit of batting depth too which is important.
This is only the second time since 2005 that an ODI has been held at the Basin Reserve. Usually it is the Westpac Stadium that gets the limited overs action in Wellington. In total this will be the 28th ODI to be staged here. New Zealand don’t have a great record here. They have 10 wins and 11 defeats with three no results. Pakistan have three wins and two defeats.
There is usually something in the pitch for the bowlers at the Basin while the exposed nature of the ground brings the atmospheric conditions into play. There has never been a score of 300 here so we may not get a high scoring beginning to the series.
I’m really looking forward to this series I must admit and I think the difference could be the fact that Pakistan’s batsmen are more used to making the big scores that the others can bat around than New Zealand are. New Zealanders make a lot of 50s and 60s but rarely the 120s and 130s that make a difference. I don’t see too much between the two bowling attacks and if anything Pakistan may even have an edge there. I think they are the value in this one.
Given the quality of the two bowling attacks and the lack of genuine batsmen in both sides I don’t expect either team to take too many risks with the bat and as a result the 10.5 sixes looks very much on the high side. As a rule it is only really Fakhar Zaman who goes big for Pakistan and only the openers for New Zealand. These attacks are not easy to pick up and get hold of so I’m on the under here.
Henry Nicholls produced a good knock in the second match against West Indies over Christmas and if the likes of Amir and Raees can get stuck in early doors and Hasan Ali comes on and bowls like he has been New Zealand might need a rebuild from Nicholls here. 13/1 looks a big price on him to top score especially with the top order anything but certainties to pile on the runs.
Back Pakistan to win 1st ODI for a 3/10 stake at 3.20 with Betfair
Back H.Nicholls Top New Zealand Batsman for a 1/10 stake at 14.00 with Betfair
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Back Under 10.5 sixes for a 4/10 stake at 1.73 with William Hill