Depleted NZ look to resume home domination
January 25, 2016
Start time 1100 local (2200 GMT)
Injuries have hampered New Zealand's seam attack over the recent limited-overs series. Key batsmen have been sidelined by niggles. They will be without their three most experienced ODI cricketers on Monday, but still, so good have they been at home, New Zealand still appear the more dynamic team. Of the nine limited-overs games they have completed in their summer, they have won seven.
Key to New Zealand's depth has been their management's skill in spotting and honing talent. Martin Guptill was persevered with through a lean stretch at the end of 2014. He would go on to be 2015's leading ODI runscorer. Colin Munro had had a lukewarm run in the middle order, before going thermonuclear at no.3, in Auckland. Mitchell Santner has a T-Rex front arm in his delivery stride, but he moves like a raptor in the field, and has contributed smartly in the major disciplines. They are about to switch formats, but the transitions have generally been seamless for New Zealand. As their coach says, "form in any format is great".
Pakistan will feel a little battered after two heavy T20 defeats, but who is to say when metal will strike flint and their fire starts? A change of captain, and the arrival of new personnel lends a little freshness to their tour. Their left-arm pace legion has been bolstered by the arrival of Mohammad Irfan and Rahat Ali, though the spin options do appear barer without Shahid Afridi.
Their batting has been wobbly as ever in the past year, on occasion seeming outdated in their inability to attack at vital stages of the innings. There were series victories against Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe, but also bruising defeats against Bangladesh and England. On a hard Basin Reserve deck tinged slightly green on the eve of the game, Azhar Ali will need the more experienced hands in his top order - the likes of Shoaib Malik and Mohammed Hafeez - to show the younger lot how to succeed in such conditions.
(last five matches, most recent first)
New Zealand: WLWWL
In the spotlight
New Zealand's selectors have said they are simply resting Luke Ronchi ahead of the Australia series, and are adamant that he remains the team's no. 1 white-ball keeper. But his lack of runs since June will be among New Zealand's mild concerns. Ronchi plays the first match of this series, then gives the gloves to BJ Watling for the second and third ODIs. If he gets the chance to bat, Ronchi will want to shore up his place in the XI with the kind of impactful innings he had played in the previous southern summer.
A Test-match strike rate of almost 75 suggests Sarfraz Ahmed would take nicely to ODIs as well, but so far, he has been only decent, where he is exceptional in the longest format. There is some evidence that Sarfraz needs a little time at the crease before he unfurls his scything cuts and whiplash sweeps, as he averages over 40 batting in the top three. He has been sent back down the order more recently though, and if Pakistan lose quick wickets on a lively pitch, it may be down to Sarfraz to transform the outlook of his team's innings, as he often has in Tests.
Ross Taylor, Tim Southee and Brendon McCullum are all unavailable with injury, giving the likes of Tom Latham, Colin Munro and Henry Nicholls the opportunity to show their ODI wares. Latham will likely open, but Munro and Nicholls may be competing for one middle-order place.
New Zealand (probable): 1 Tom Latham, 2 Martin Guptill, 3 Kane Williamson (capt.), 4 Colin Munro, 5 Grant Elliott, 6 Corey Anderson, 7 Luke Ronchi (wk), 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Adam Milne, 10 Matt Henry, 11 Trent Boult
It is conceivable that Pakistan's frontline attack will be composed entirely of left-armers - with Imad Wasim likeliest to play out of the spinners. Babar Azam, Sohaib Maqsood and Mohammad Rizwan are probably competing for two middle-order spots.
Pakistan (probable): 1 Azhar Ali (capt.), 2 Ahmed Shehzad, 3 Mohammad Hafeez, 4 Babar Azam/ Sohaib Maqsood, 5 Shoaib Malik, 6 Mohammad Rizwan, 7 Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), 8 Imad Wasim, 9 Wahab Riaz, 10 Mohammad Amir, 11 Mohammad Irfan
Pitch and conditions
This match will be the first ODI at the Basin Reserve since 2005, so average scores at the venue can only say so much. Grant Elliott felt the surface was hard, and should have a bit of pace and bounce. Overhead conditions may be conducive to swing bowling, with cloud forecast for parts of the day - though they are not expected to bring rain.
Stats and trivia
- Azhar Ali has averaged 45.58 and struck at 84 since becoming ODI captain last year. Both those figures are better than his overall average.
- In 18 matches at the helm so far, Kane Williamson's average also improves - to 56.43. His strike rate of 81 is slightly lower than his overall figure however.
- The one-dayer between Australia and New Zealand at the Basin Reserve in 2005 is the only ODI that has been played at the venue this century.
"Speaking to everyone that's going to the game, around the city, they're all excited to have a one-dayer at the Basin Reserve. I think it's one of the best venues in the world, so to get a capacity crowd out here tomorrow will be fantastic for the guys."
New Zealand allrounder Grant Elliott on the prospect of playing the first ODI at the Basin Reserve in over 10 years
"The wicket looks quite hard and the wind factor is there, so we'll try and figure out a combination that will suit these conditions."
Pakistan captain Azhar Ali
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando