The ICC T20 World Cup sees Pakistan take on New Zealand in a crucial Super 12, Group 2 match tonight in Sharjah. Pakistan enjoyed a convincing win against arch-rivals India in the opener to seal two crucial points. They are placed second in the table on basis of NRR after Afghanistan hammered Scotland on Monday.
Now the Babar Azam-led side Pakistan side will take on New Zealand, who are set to play their maiden match. A win for Pakistan will help them tighten the grip in the group as the side will be buzzing after posting a 10-wicket win against India. On the other hand, New Zealand could get the perfect start by beating a tough side like Pakistan. This will help them to go into the games with utmost confidence. Ahead of a crucial encounter, we present the key player battles.
Shaheen Afridi vs the Kiwi openers
Shaheen Afridi (3/31) showed what he is all about dismissing the Indian openers on Sunday. He bowled accurately to get Rohit Sharma for a first-ball duck before dislodging KL Rahul’s stumps with a beauty. Pace, aggression, and yorkers are Afridi’s strengths and with some swing in it, he can make any top batter suffer. Facing him will be the Kiwi openers – Tim Seifert and Martin Guptill. Both these batsmen are aggressive in nature and play inventive shots but facing a severe test against Afridi will be a severe challenge on offer.
Hasan Ali vs Kane Williamson
Pakistan right-arm pacer Hasan Ali has all the attributes to shine and he is a genuine wicket-taking asset. He can leak runs but carries a threat that opposition batters may need to watch out. Hasan will have his task cut out against Kane Williamson. The Kiwi captain is a superb performer across formats and holds value for NZ just like Virat Kohli did for India. Williamson can ease past bowlers with his precise timing and shot-making. He is a busy player and can force Hasan to change his offerings. Experience will be immense here.
Trent Boult vs Babar Azam
Kiwi left-arm pacer Trent Boult is a superb customer in T20Is. He has 46 wickets at 23.35. Boult has enough pedigree to test Babar, who showed his class against India with an unbeaten 52-ball 68*. Babar is a stylish player and brags of serious composure. Tackling Boult is something he will relish. Boult will hope to bowl in the right channels and mix things up with his fuller deliveries and yorkers. So far, Babar has managed to score 13 runs from seven balls bowled by Boult with the latter not dismissing him. It’s expected to be a tight affair.
Tim Southee vs Mohammad Rizwan
Tim Southee has 99 T20I wickets and is aiming to script a milestone. His application against Mohammad Rizwan will be important. Southee has dismissed Rizwan once in T20Is, conceding 20 runs from 20 deliveries. It’s safe to say a close battle has been on the cards. Rizwan has all the shots under his belt and was in superb touch versus India, scoring a 55-ball 79*. Rizwan will look to attack Southee and try to maximise in the first six overs. Southee will need to keep things simple and tight, not allowing Rizwan to free his arms.