Pakistan Vs New Zealand
Starting time: 2:30 pm IST
Venue: Pallekele, Sri Lanka
Pellekele, Sri Lanka, March 8: The world was witness to an exhilarating last series between Pakistan and New Zealand in Kiwiland earlier this year. Now it's time for them to take up cudgels and go at each other again, this time on neutral territory and with the stakes of a better standing in Group A, hanging in the balance. Over the years, Pakistan has dominated New Zealand with 51 wins to 34. But since the last World Cup, the Black Caps have beaten Pakistan 5 times and lost on 4 occasions.
In late 2009, Pakistan lost a one-off one-dayer and then a best-of-three series in the UAE to the Kiwis 1-2. In that engagement, Brian McCullum emerged the most successful batsmen, scoring an aggregate of 228 runs at an average of 76.00 and a strike rate of 97.43. It was a performance that completely overshadowed anything the Pakistani's could come up with. Kamran Akmal anhd Shahid Afirid's run tallies of 75 were the best Pakistan had to offer.
Pakistan's slow-left-armer Saeed Ajmal however, topped the bowling charts with 6 wickets from 3 matches at 18.33 runs conceded per scalp, while the Kiwi captain Daniel Vettori came in second with 5 wickets at 22.60 and his counterpart Shahid Afridi managed tha same number of wickets at an average of 25.60.
In the Jan-Feb 2011 series which Pakistan won 3-2, it was oddly enough Kiwis who topped the runs and wickets tables. Martin Guptill scored an aggregate of 209 from 6 matches at an average of 52.25 while Hamish Bennett picked up 11 wickets from the same number of matches at 20.90 runs conceded per scalp.
Other players that figured at the top of the charts were Pakistan's Misbah-ul-Haq (avg 67.66), Ahmed Shehzad (avg 47.00) and Mohammad Hafeez (avg 33.20), while Pakistan's Wahab Riaz, and Kiwis Tim Southee, Kyle Mills and Scott Styris all fared well with the ball.
In the World Cup so far, New Zealand's batting might just hold the edge against Pakistan's own. That's because, the Kiwi openers Martin Guptill and Brendon McCullum are averaging 135 and 118 respectively from 3 matches. Granted, their best performances have come against minnow teams. But in contrast. Misbah-ul-Haq who is Pakistan's best batsman in the Cup so far is averaging 92 (though he aggregates more than Guptill and McCullum). He is followed by Umar Akmal who has an average of 43.00 and Younis Khan with 42.66.
As far as the bowling comparison goes, Pakistan hold the definitive trump card in captain Shahid Afridi, who has taken a tally of 14 wickets in 3 games at a staggeringly low average of 5.21. New Zealand's best bowler appears to be seamer Tim Southee who has accounted for 7 scalps from the same number of games, going at 12.43 runs per wicket. He is followed by team-mate Hamish Bennett with 6 wickets at 19.33 and Pakistan's Umar Gul with 4 wickets at 23.00.
So, while New Zealand seems to be dominating the batting, Pakistan comes out tops in the bowling. It should be a keen contest between these two sides when they take the field on March 8.