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The Preview by Siddhartha Talya
November 11, 2009
After a riveting end to the ODI series, which New Zealand won 2-1, the focus turns to the Twenty20s, which Pakistan will feel they are better placed to trump. Pakistan conceded the ODI series in typically erratic fashion, making a meal of a chase of 212 before a phenomenal fightback staged by Mohammad Aamer and Saeed Ajmal ensured the game was settled in the final over. They will be disappointed by a fifth consecutive ODI series defeat, especially one they were well poised to win, but the Twenty20 games in Dubai present an opportunity to redress that.
Pakistan have a far superior record in Twenty20s this year - they won the World Twenty20 and overall have seven wins in nine games. New Zealand are no slouches themselves - they beat Sri Lanka 2-0 in what was their only highlight of a disappointing tour in September- but their success in Abu Dhabi couldn't hide their struggle against spin. Saeed Ajmal and Shahid Afridi, with their wily variations, nibbled away at New Zealand while proving economical. With the pair, and possibly Shoaib Malik, likely to gobble a major share of the 20 overs, the New Zealand batsmen, who gave up 12 wickets at 22.42, face a serious challenge.
Pakistan face their own demons with the bat; the terrible shot selection that brought their downfall in the ODI decider prompted Afridi to liken his batsmen to "club cricketers", and the comparison will only be reinforced in the event of a repeat.
Form Guide(most recent first)
New Zealand - WLLWW
Pakistan - WWWWW
Watch out for
Ross Taylor has proved destructive in the death overs in this format. His exploits in the IPL and the Champions League Twenty20 are well known but his performances on the international circuit - he averages 23.68 in Twenty20 internationals against 34.31 overall - have been less successful. He'll want to change that.
Mohammad Aamer staged one of the great comebacks in limited-overs cricket with his unbeaten 73. His ability to clear the ropes matched with a sound technique represented a talent more deserving that a No.10 position in the batting order.
Imran Nazir, Fawad Alam and Sohail Tanvir have joined the squad for the Twenty20 series. Mohammad Yousuf, who stands in for Younis Khan as captain for the Test series, sits out along with Salman Butt and Wahab Riaz.
Pakistan (possible): 1 Kamran Akmal (wk), 2 Imran Nazir, 3 Shoaib Malik, 4 Shahid Afridi (capt), 5 Umar Akmal, 6 Fawad Alam, 7 Abdul Razzaq, 8 Mohammad Aamer, 9 Umar Gul, 10 Iftikhar Anjum/Sohail Tanvir, 11 Saeed Ajmal.
New Zealand will be without Kyle Mills and James Franklin, nursing shoulder and back injuries respectively. Jacob Oram is also unavailable - he's flown back home to attend the birth of his child. With only 12 players to choose from, they are likely to draft in Ian Butler and Nathan McCullum.
New Zealand (possible): 1 Brendon McCullum (wk), 2 Aaron Redmond, 3 Martin Guptill, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Scott Styris, 6 Daniel Vettori (capt), 7 Neil Broom/BJ Watling, 8 Nathan McCullum, 9 Ian Butler, 10 Shane Bond, 11 Tim Southee.
"We didn't play well in the one-day series but it's gone, it's history, it's a new day now and tomorrow (Thursday) will be a new day too."
Shahid Afridi has moved on from the ODI debacle
"Pakistan have proved they're a great Twenty20 outfit - they're the world champions - and they've got the wood over us in the last few outings."
Tim Southee acknowledges New Zealand start as underdogs
Plays of the day from the IPL qualifier between Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians in Delhi
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