New Zealand vs Pakistan: First ODI Preview

Batsman faces bowler in front of packed cordon

We take a look at the first ODI between New Zealand and Pakistan due to be played at the Basin Reserve on Saturday 5 January. 

A Black Caps outfit brimming with confidence after a Test, ODI and T20I clean sweep against the Windies - and a return to the top of the shortest format's rankings - will look to capitalise on momentum.

A Pakistan unit that hasn't played ODI cricket in three months will face a tough task during a whirlwind limited-overs tour of eight internationals in 22 days.

New Zealand v Pakistan | Saturday, 5 January | Basin Reserve, Wellington | 0:00

To Win Match
New Zealand 53/100 | Tie 35/1 | Pakistan 31/20

New Zealand
The Kiwis were more than willing to experiment with different combinations and personnel choices throughout the limited-overs series against the Windies, setting themselves up for a more settled approach against a significantly more challenging Pakistan team.

Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor were intermittently rested during the West Indies series - and will form the backbone of a full-strength middle order, with Martin Guptill also back to bolster the opening pair.

Todd Astle has been chosen ahead of fellow leg-spinner Ish Sodhi, despite the latter's climb to the top of the T20I rankings for bowlers - and Mitchell Santner has been retained. Doug Bracewell is absent due to injury.

New Zealand's pace attack, one surmises, will get the better of the Pakistani batsmen time and time again. Successfully negotiating life without Mitchell McClenaghan, the host seamers will be spearheaded by Trent Boult and Tim Southee.

The Kiwis have not lost an ODI to Pakistan since 2014 - and haven't been defeated by them in New Zealand since 2011. The hosts have not been defeated by ODI opposition other than Australia at Saturday's venue since February 1995. That team, a dozen years ago, was Pakistan.

 YESWENA

Pakistan
Out go Ahmed Shehzad, Imad Wasim, Junaid Khan and Usman Khan and in come Azhar Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Aamer Yamin and Mohammad Amir, as poor form and injury make for a considerably different Pakistan squad compared to the one that took on Sri Lanka in October 2017.

Amir is the man tasked with leading an attack that the New Zealanders know will pose a bigger threat than anything brought by the West Indies. Conditions, primed for swing and seam, will really suit the left-armer.

A lot of the players will be match ready after competing in the T10 League in Dubai and the Quaid-e-Azam trophy in Pakistan. Babar Azam, who is relishing a solid stretch of form and scored a superb 83 in defeat to the Kiwis the last time they met here, will be particularly key.

Ali, Fakhar Zaman and Shadab Khan, who starred in a resounding win over a New Zealand XI in Wednesday's warm-up, too, should prove instrumental. Shadab, of course, has recent Big Bash League experience for the Brisbane Heat to build on.

The wet weather that interrupted some of the West Indies series should steer clear this week, provided Sunday's damp forecast doesn't arrive 24 hours early.

Verdict: New Zealand 53/100
While they're just one position ahead of sixth-placed Pakistan in the ICC's ranking for ODI teams, the Black Caps really should have the beating of a sub-continental team battling rather foreign conditions.

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Written by Jonhenry Wilson for Hollywoodbets

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