Monday, December 8, 2014
Start time 15:00 local (11:00 GMT)
Monday's game against New Zealand will be the first ODI Pakistan will play since their one-run defeat to Australia in Abu Dhabi in October, a loss that exposed their brittle batting and a sense of uncertainty in their leadership.
The leadership question was resolved by Misbah-ul-Haq's return to form in the Tests against Australia and the team's dominant victories. The question of their batting strength, however, was raised again in the second T20 against New Zealand, where Pakistan failed to chase down 145 on a slow track in Dubai.
Unlike New Zealand, who have another home series against Sri Lanka, this five-match ODI series will be the best chance Pakistan have to complete their team combination jigsaw. Younis Khan was recalled to the ODI side on the back of a stupendous run of form in the Tests and Pakistan will need more of that in the series. Their attack has been boosted by the return of Umar Gul, but with Mohammad Hafeez suspended from bowling and restricted to playing as a specialist batsman, Pakistan will need to work out their bowling combination with a focus on spin.
Between Monday's game and the World Cup, New Zealand will play 14 ODIs, of which nine will be at home. Kane Williamson has already stressed that his side is keen on gaining experience, especially match awareness in different situations.
Twice already on the tour, New Zealand have fought from being a game down to drawing level in the series. Having got accustomed to the pitches in the UAE, they will be looking at grabbing a lead in the ODI series, building on the momentum from their T20 win.
(most recent first, completed matches only)
New Zealand LLWWT
In the spotlight
Since the ODIs against India in January 2014, New Zealand have played just one series - against South Africa in October. Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor missed it due to injuries and will aim to get their World Cup preparations underway in earnest. Both batsmen have already scored centuries on this tour. Williamson's 192 in the Sharjah Test was pivotal to the side's series-levelling win while Taylor had scored a vital hundred in the drawn Dubai Test.
After he was reported for a suspect action, Mohammad Hafeez had said that he did not rate himself as a bowler and was focused on his career as an international batsman. His suspension as a bowler, though, could affect Pakistan's preparations for the World Cup, according to team manager Moin Khan, and there will be some scrutiny on Hafeez as he walks out to bat. His recent form has been good with a couple of hundreds against New Zealand in the Tests.
Umar Gul took 2 for 24 on his return to international cricket in the second T20 and could play his first ODI since March 2014.
Pakistan (probable) 1 Ahmed Shehzad, 2 Mohammad Hafeez, 3 Sarfraz Ahmed (wk) , 4 Younis Khan, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 6 Umar Akmal, 7 Shahid Afridi, 8 Umar Gul, 9 Wahab Riaz, 10 Zulfiqar Babar, 11 Mohammad Irfan
Martin Guptill has been ruled out of the match due to a hamstring niggle which also kept him out of the second T20. New Zealand have not yet taken a call on Corey Anderson's selection, after the allrounder was struck on the helmet during the first T20.
New Zealand (probable) 1 Anton Devcich, 2 Kane Williamson (capt), 3 Dean Brownlie, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Tom Latham, 6 Luke Ronchi (wk), 7 James Neesham, 8 Daniel Vettori, 9 Adam Milne/Nathan McCullum, 10 and 11 Matt Henry/Kyle Mills/Mitchell McClenaghan
Pitch and conditions
The ODI series will start at the venue of the two T20s. The surface for the second game on Friday was slower but the surface for the ODIs could end up being more batting-friendly. Dew was not much of an issue during the second T20.
Stats and trivia
- The last time Pakistan suffered five or more successive ODI defeats was between November 2009 and June 2010, when they lost nine games on the trot
- New Zealand have won 10 out of 32 games they have played in the UAE. All but three of the games were played in Sharjah.
- The last ODI between the two sides was played during the 2011 World Cup. Ross Taylor's unbeaten century helped set up a 110-run win for New Zealand in the game in Pallekele
"The thinking is that now that we have him here, we give him full confidence, because even as a senior you require backing."
Misbah-ul-Haq on how Pakistan will handle Younis Khan, who had lashed out at the selectors after being dropped for the Australia ODIs
"It's not so much an audition, it's very much about workloads as well. There's so much cricket before the World Cup so we're very conscious of that but we also want to put out our strongest side."
Kane Williamson talks up the big picture for New Zealand
Rachna Shetty is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo