New Zealand v Pakistan, 1st T20, Auckland January 14, 2016

NZ playing 'wonderful cricket' - Shehzad


Ahmed Shehzad has said batsmen will have to be careful with their shot selection and not get overly tempted by Eden Park's short boundaries © AFP

Pakistan have spoken about being aggressive with bat and ball on tour, but Ahmed Shehzad has conceded that New Zealand are currently playing cricket that is "awesome to see".

The hosts' batsmen set New Zealand records during the 2-0 defeat of Sri Lanka last week, but Pakistan have not enjoyed good T20 form in recent months. They had also beaten Sri Lanka 2-0 in Colombo in the middle of last year, but were more recently whitewashed by England in a three-match T20 series in the UAE. They also lost a T20 to Bangladesh last year, though more positive results did come against Zimbabwe.

"New Zealand are playing wonderful cricket at the moment," Shehzad said. "We all know the style they playing with is awesome to see. We have to match them. We have to compete."

New Zealand's limited-overs game at home has been built around explosive starts from their opening pair, then swing, seam and bustling intensity from their seamers. Shehzad said Pakistan would have to raise their game to counter the hosts' formula.

"I think Brendon McCullum's done a good job," he said. "They're playing without any fear. There's no issues with their places. They're shuffling their players. Now they have a good bunch which is doing their job together. If any side is playing good cricket we have to appreciate that and try to match them. It raises your standards as well. We have to admit they are playing good cricket, but it's a T20 format. You have to execute your plans and flourish."

Pakistan had won their match against South Africa at Eden Park during last year's World Cup, and have also played one T20 there after the ground was reshaped for the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Shehzad said his team were aware of the unique challenges Eden Park's small size and odd dimensions posed, but would rely on support staff to fine tune their strategy.

"Basically it's a rugby ground. It favours the batsmen. We're aware of that. We played quite a few matches here. We kind of know the trick here. Our management is very experienced - Waqar Younis, Mushtaq Ahmed, Grant Flower - the way they work with players, they pinpoint everything and tell us what to execute. We try our best to do that. Management are all cricketers and they know whether you're winning or lost, how to pick up the players."

Eden Park has at times been conducive to big scores, with England having hit 214 for 7 at the venue in 2013. However, batting teams have also been foiled by playing too aggressively at the venue, as had been the case for Sri Lanka on Sunday. The straight boundaries are particularly tempting, at less than 50m.

"We have to pick and choose our balls," Shehzad said. "Sometimes you play some rash shots when looking at the stadium and all these things, and you lose your wickets.. You can't be rash, or lose your wicket and let your team down. The boundaries at the side aren't very big either, but we have to play proper cricket."

New Zealand are trialling an uncapped T20 legspinner in Todd Astle in this series, and their other major slow-bowling option - Mitchell Santner - has himself played only two T20 internationals.

"At the moment their spin is one area where any team can target them," Shehzad said. "I think in this ground, they won't use that spin. They will come hard at us - that's what we're planning for at the moment. I'm sure we won't be able to see lots of spin here - maybe a couple of overs here or there. They will try to stick to their strength which is fast bowling and batting."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Munib on January 15, 2016, 5:39 GMT

    @anver and other indian cricket fans trying to watch the NZ-Pak match. Right now, I cant watch Rohit bashing the Aussies again, coz PTV Sports has switched to coverage of the the NZ-Pak match. So Cricinfo zindabad!!!

  • Vikram on January 15, 2016, 1:33 GMT

    Where Pakistan and New Zealand are evenly matched, or Pak have a better team is in tests. In all other formats, the chasm between the two sides is too wide

  •   Andy Parry on January 14, 2016, 23:33 GMT

    @STRATOCASTER. Nathan McCullum has a knee injury I think, but yes he is due to retire after the WC. Honestly I don't know if he would walk back into the team anymore. Yes he is economical, but Santner and Sodhi actually took wickets during the Sri Lankan series, which is not something we have been able to say about our spinners since the early days of Daniel Vettori (before he went for less spin and more control and economy).

  • Mark on January 14, 2016, 22:27 GMT

    Its surprising to me that NZ still have a way to go to prove to some they are a top team, particularly Asian supporters. Being kiwi I've closely watched every black caps team since ~1990 and can confidently say this is the best NZ side in that time. Its not just the first XI, it's the depth too. I agree they need to prove it on spinning tracks but recent test success in UAE (1-1 draw), WI (2-1 win), Bangladesh (0-0 draw) and SL (1-1 draw) has shown they can at least hold their own, which is something most touring teams cannot claim.

  • Hashim on January 14, 2016, 20:51 GMT

    Broadcast on Sky sports. Dont know which, but it will be showed on Sky sports Channel, which is great for Cricket

  • pradipto on January 14, 2016, 15:23 GMT

    Is there live coverage in indian channel on TV

  • Saravana Kumar on January 14, 2016, 14:56 GMT

    Anyone one know know which channel telecast new zealand vs Pakistan tomorrow

  • Anver on January 14, 2016, 11:13 GMT

    Are the matches shown on Indian Channels or like SL series we will have to follow the series via ???

  • Zain on January 14, 2016, 10:16 GMT

    FIJICRICKET. ICC rankings are not always a clear reflections of team's standing in world cricket. In my opinion, New Zealand are the 3rd best ODI side right now after Oz and SA. They have beaten some top sides in recent times and they have shown, they have the necessary players to compete away from home. Cheers.

  • Shehryar on January 14, 2016, 8:30 GMT

    @FijiCricket not necessarily. for pakistan to prove that they are better than india in odis they have to beat india in a one day series, like the last time they did in 2012-13. this series will only prove which team is better in nz conditions, pak or nz.

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