ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

New Zealand v Pakistan, Group A, World Cup 2011, Pallekele

Pakistan's unpredictability sets up even contest

Pakistan have been utterly dominant in World Cup clashes against New Zealand, but their fickle form in recent times raises the prospect of a close contest

Madhusudhan Ramakrishnan

March 7, 2011

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Shoaib Akhtar runs in during the semi-finals, 1st semi-final: New Zealand v Pakistan, World Cup, Manchester, June 16, 1999
Shoaib Akhtar destroyed New Zealand in the World Cup 1999 semi-final © Getty Images
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Pakistan dominate World Cup clashes
New Zealand have been one of the most consistent sides in global competitions. While their solitary title came in the 2000 Champions Trophy, they have made the semi-finals of the 1992, 1999 and 2007 World Cups and the finals of the Champions Trophy in 2009. Yet, New Zealand have always struggled to perform against Pakistan in World Cups. Their only World Cup win against Pakistan came in their first ever meeting in 1983. Since then, Pakistan have won all six matches, including a comprehensive nine-wicket win in the 1999 semi-final. The story is a little different when it comes to clashes in the Champions Trophy. New Zealand have won all three of their meetings including the most recent one in the 2009 edition.

Pakistan boast the better record in head-to-head matches and have also dominated the matches played in the subcontinent since 2000. However, Pakistan's recent problems and unpredictability have meant that New Zealand have been the slightly better team in matches played in the last three years, winning five games to Pakistan's four. After their win in the Champions Trophy game, New Zealand also won the three-match series in Abu Dhabi 2-1. Pakistan, though, can take confidence from their 3-2 win in the ODI series played in New Zealand in 2010.

Pakistan v New Zealand in ODIs
Played Won Lost W/L ratio
Overall 88 51 34 1.50
Matches since 2000 38 21 16 1.31
In Asia since 2000 20 15 5 3.00
Since Jan 2008 10 4 5 0.80
In World Cup 7 6 1 6.00
Champions Trophy 3 0 3 0.00

Clash of two inconsistent sides
Both teams have been among the more inconsistent sides in the last two years. New Zealand, after an excellent show in the Champions Trophy in 2009, lost their way in 2010, going down 4-0 to Bangladesh and 5-0 to India. Pakistan lost 5-0 to Australia in early 2010, but since then, recovered to contest two close series against England and South Africa, which they lost 3-2. The 3-2 series win in New Zealand in early 2011 has been followed by three excellent matches in the World Cup, including the 11-run win over Sri Lanka. New Zealand, on the other hand, have looked inconsistent in the tournament so far. They have had two very comfortable wins over Kenya and Zimbabwe, but suffered a heavy loss to Australia.

Both Pakistan and New Zealand have been among the poorer ODI teams over the last three years. While South Africa are on top, with an average difference of 12.1 and run-rate difference of 0.54, Pakistan and New Zealand rank well below with extremely low average and run-rate differences. Pakistan have been the slightly better batting side, but New Zealand have a slightly better bowling average and economy rate.

Pakistan's top six has been more consistent in matches played since 2008. They average nearly 37 with 22 century stands and 69 fifty partnerships. New Zealand's top order has been less inspiring and average less than 32, which is only higher than Bangladesh's. Their rate of converting half-century stands into hundreds partnerships is also poor (nearly 1:5) compared to the top teams (less than 1:3).

Batting and bowling records of teams since Jan 2008
Team Matches Runs/wicket (batting) Run rate Runs/wicket(bowling) Economy rate Average diff Run rate diff
South Africa 59 39.5 5.59 27.34 5.05 12.1 0.54
Australia 92 35.4 5.20 26.00 4.88 9.4 0.32
India 95 37.2 5.61 31.59 5.37 5.62 0.24
Sri Lanka 83 31.8 5.15 27.77 4.92 3.98 0.23
Pakistan 68 31.0 5.25 30.35 5.05 0.63 0.20
New Zealand 70 29.3 5.20 29.11 4.92 0.32 0.28
England 71 31.1 5.25 31.27 5.27 -0.20 -0.02
West Indies 64 27.7 5.05 32.39 5.08 -4.70 -0.03
Bangladesh 75 26.1 4.65 32.76 5.13 -6.70 -0.48

Comparing the batting
Despite having an ordinary time in away matches in the last year, Ross Taylor has clearly been the best New Zealand batsman since the start of 2008. Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill batted themselves into form in the ten-wicket win over Zimbabwe and that could be an advantage against a far more potent Pakistan bowling attack. Scott Styris, who has been one of the more successful batsmen against Pakistan, had a poor outing against Australia, but his overall record in World Cups is pretty good.

Pakistan will be buoyed by the form of Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq, who were responsible for setting up Pakistan's match-winning total of 277 against Sri Lanka. The powerful lower-middle order of Shahid Afridi, Umar Akmal and Abdul Razzaq is extremely dangerous in subcontinent conditions and could be a huge factor in close matches. Afridi, despite becoming a bigger contributor with the ball, has scored two centuries in recent matches, including a stunning 109 off 76 balls in a defeat against Sri Lanka.

Batting stats for Pakistan and New Zealand batsmen since Jan 2008
Batsman Runs Average SR 100s 50s
Ross Taylor 1886 35.58 79.24 1 15
Brendon McCullum 1880 33.57 92.38 2 10
Martin Guptill 1445 37.05 82.38 1 10
Scott Styris 901 31.06 78.89 0 6
Younis Khan 1743 32.88 77.29 3 12
Kamran Akmal 1458 31.69 88.09 2 7
Shahid Afridi 1387 26.16 130.47 2 3
Misbah-ul-Haq 1365 48.75 81.29 0 11

Afridi's bowling the key
Afridi has been in excellent bowling form in the tournament so far, picking up 14 wickets in three games at a stunning average of 5.20. He'll probably again be the key bowler in Sri Lankan conditions which generally aid spin. Shoaib Akhtar, who destroyed New Zealand in the 1999 semi-final, has been consistent in the matches so far.

As usual, New Zealand will rely on the economical and consistent Daniel Vettori to deliver. Kyle Mills, who has been one of New Zealand's best bowlers in the last few years, missed the first two games of the World Cup. He returned a fine performance of 2 for 29 against Zimbabwe and will be an important bowler against Pakistan.

Pakistan's lower-order firepower
Overall, when compared to most top teams, the performance of Pakistan and New Zealand in the first 15 overs has been poor. However, New Zealand, despite averaging slightly lesser, have a better run-rate difference than Pakistan in this phase of the innings. Pakistan dominate the performance in the middle overs, with a higher average and run-rate difference. In the last ten overs, Pakistan's high run-rate clearly points to the firepower in their lower middle order. On the bowling front though, there is very little to separate both teams.

Performance across the innings since start of 2008
Team Period (overs) Batting average Run rate Bowling average Economy rate Run rate difference
Pakistan 0-15 36.69 4.50 36.29 4.91 -0.41
New Zealand 0-15 32.64 4.93 33.50 4.60 -0.33
Pakistan 16-40 34.83 5.06 32.44 4.62 0.44
New Zealand 16-40 29.62 4.76 31.94 4.67 0.09
Pakistan 41-50 21.26 7.52 21.53 6.93 0.59
New Zealand 41-50 22.19 7.19 20.40 6.94 0.25

Afridi v Vettori
Afridi, in the course of a dream start to the World Cup, picked up his 300th wicket in ODIs, making him only the fourth spinner to reach the mark. Prior to 2004, he had 131 wickets at an average over 39 with just one five-wicket haul. But since then, he has picked up 175 wickets at an average of 30.08 with three four-wicket hauls and four five wicket-hauls.

Vettori, who has 281 wickets, has been one of the most economical bowlers in ODIs. Afridi has clearly been the more successful wicket taker in matches played since 2008. Vettori, despite not picking up a lot of wickets, has been more difficult to score off. While Afridi's record against right-handers is superb, he has struggled to dismiss left-handers, who average more than 61 and score at 5.23 runs per over off his bowling. Vettori, though, has been better than Afridi against left-handers and averages just over 36, while conceding under five runs per over.

Stats of Afridi and Vettori in ODIs since Jan 2008
Bowler Wickets Average,ER RHB (wickets) RHB (average,ER) LHB (wickets) LHB (average,ER)
Shahid Afridi 94 29.64, 4.60 78 23.14, 4.31 16 61.37, 5.23
Daniel Vettori 66 27.96, 3.89 50 25.34, 3.59 16 36.18, 4.72


Comments: 17 
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Posted by Dummy4 on (March 8, 2011, 7:45 GMT)

Pakistan vs New Zealand will be close affair as kiwis wana point to prove and Afridi made it clear that they want to be on a top of the table to avoid the qf clash in India

Posted by Bobby on (March 8, 2011, 7:22 GMT)

Nadeem 1976- Canada crushed Pakistan to 184 but they still won while England crushed India with 338 and almost won the tied match. Ireland also exposed flawed Indian batting and extremely poor bowling...:) I do Not know who will win NZ and Pakistan clash..as I normally do not comment when Pakistan plays against NZ!

Posted by abdul on (March 8, 2011, 6:58 GMT)

suberb analysis, hoping for the best competition today.

Posted by muhammad amjad on (March 8, 2011, 6:46 GMT)

have you people have forgotten left hander hussy against saeed ajmal in T20

Posted by mani on (March 8, 2011, 6:07 GMT)

Afridi is the best spinner in ODIs. Wicket taking and economical too. Not anyother spinner have both these qualities. I think afridi again will be the key against newzeland. But Pakistan cannot win every match banking on their bowling. Their batting especially top order must fire to win big matches. This is gonna be last chance to top three else I think they will look for change in batting order. Ahmad Shahzad, Hafeez time for you both to score man. Else they should be given rest and replaced.

Posted by x on (March 8, 2011, 5:52 GMT)

1) Many of the players in the Pakistan team are new and have been added only recently, and were not there in the 2008 (in fact many of the old players such as Haq and Akhtar featured only sporadically) or even late 2010 team, therefore, it would be unfair to judge the current team based on 2008 results. One can even ask, why is the cutoff at Jan 2008?

2) The author seems to forget that the 2010 series he refers to was played only two months ago (and even carried into 2011), and is therefore a more significant indicator of todays match than matches played two years ago.

3) The author makes the mistake of calling New Zealand one of the most consistent teams in tournaments, but then also calls it one of the most inconsistent teams in the past two years. Seems kinda inconsistent :p

Anyways, I am biased. Best of luck Pakistan :)

Posted by hameed on (March 8, 2011, 5:48 GMT)

It is confirmed. I always thought Pakistan was unpredictable, but now there are stats to back it up :D

Posted by Anjana on (March 8, 2011, 5:32 GMT)

I'm a Sri Lankan fan but also a great admirer of Pakistani cricket. Its so disappointing to see Pakistan performances when it comes to consistency in long run. Due to the off field incidents and various other factors as well as the player factors them self not allowing Pakistan team to settle as one unit and to play together for a long period. To form a good consistently performing team, you need to have at least 8 players out of 11, who have played together for at least 3-4 years. Australia, India, South Africa, Sri Lanka all have such units. How often we see talented Pakistan Players loose their way suddenly due to various reasons and dissapere form international cricket (eg. Saqlain, Azar mahmood, Mohomed Sami,Shoib malik, Mohomed Asif, Mohomed Aamir, Salman Butt... long list), so that the team is frequently changed not allowing to settle. So the cricket authorities in Pakistan must make sure that at least current team should let play together for long time and to let them settle.

Posted by Nadeem on (March 8, 2011, 4:51 GMT)

Lets the match begin, we will see who win. Stats dont even matter in this WC. Canada can crush pakistan to 184 and irland can beat eng and eng can tie india.

Any thing is possible, and the big thing is the pitch , no body knows about pitch, its new ground, new pitch and who knows 150 plus runs may turn up as wining score.

Unperdictable WC , i am enjoying it, who ever wins, will win by playing not by stats this time around.

Posted by Ravi Shankar on (March 8, 2011, 4:49 GMT)

DrAtharAbbas: I do agree that Pakistan did not get chance to play in their home conditions but you need to consider that Pakistan does not have a great record at home unlike the SL and the Indians. The main reason why Pakistan has a poor record in last 2 years is because of various reasons which include the controversy in Australia (between team members), their openers esp Hafeez after playing 60 - 70 ODIs has a poor average of mid twenties, lack of venom in Akthar's bowling, inconsistency of Umar Gul, Poor political and economical conditions in pakistan which indirectly affects their cricket etc. I really have to appreciate the way they have come back after the recent scandal in England but we have to accept that the team is unpredictable and has a chance of winning the WC but you can not be over confident by stating "They will tell the world who they are, right here. HERE IN THIS WORLD CUP!!!!!!!!!!!!"

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