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Pakistan Look To Demoralise Black Caps


In-form Pakistan will have to ensure that they do not fall victim to complacency, and their tendency to implode, when they take on New Zealand in a World Cup Group A match in Kandy.

The pressure is somewhat less intense than Group B for these two teams as unless Zimbabwe scores an unlikely upset; all four Test teams in the group are ensured of a place in the knockouts.

New Zealand has beaten Kenya and Zimbabwe and another victory against a now confident Canada will see them through.

Possibly the most unpredictable outfit in the tournament, Pakistan have notched up successive victories against Kenya, Sri Lanka and Canada with skipper Shahid Afridi starring with the ball in all of them.

The top order remains vulnerable but with Afridi on song and the pace duo of Shoaib Akhtar and Umar Gul chipping in, Pakistan look capable of defending even a modest total.

The odds on Pakistan being the only team with a 100% win record halfway into the league stage would have been rather high at the start of the tournament.

Their middle order has been fairly solid and they do bring momentum into this clash having beaten New Zealand in a one-day series immediately preceding the World cup.

Pakistan is likely to make one change and bring back Shoaib Akhtar, who missed the game against Canada, for Wahab Riaz.

New Zealand (probable) 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Brendon McCullum (wk), 3 Jesse Ryder, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 James Franklin, 6 Scott Styris, 7 Nathan McCullum, 8 Daniel Vettori, 9 Kyle Mills, 10 Tim Southee, 11 Hamish Bennett.

Pakistan (probable) 1 Ahmed Shehzad, 2 Mohammad Hafeez, 3 Kamran Akmal (wk), 4 Younis Khan, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq, 6 Umar Akmal, 7 Abdul Razzaq, 8 Shahid Afridi, 9 Shoaib Akhtar, 10 Saeed Ajmal, 11 Umar Gul.

For Pakistan the individual to back is most definitely the man of the moment Shoaib Akhtar.  He is the leading wicket-taker in the tournament, with 14 from three matches, including two five-wicket hauls. One area he will be looking to dominate will be in his batting where he has yet to reach his devastating potential.

For New Zealand look to Daniel Vettori as he once again goes about showing why he is a definite for any world XI. His bowling has been slightly off this World Cup, and in what is most certainly his final global event, he will look to dominate the world’s best.

The players have stated that the pitch was hard and had grass, indicating that there would be bounce. Vettori agreed and he will look to extract some life from a pitch that is hosting its first ever international fixture.

This should be a good game, and unless the Black Caps show some of their renowned World Cup magic, Pakistan should see this unit off pretty comfortably. 

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