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Match Preview – New Zealand vs Pakistan, ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021/22, 19th Match, Group 2



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Well, how do you top that then? How do you get back to the grind after an achievement that will almost certainly define this tournament for Pakistan, regardless of what happens hereon in? Beating India might not bring its own trophy, but for a significant chunk of Pakistan supporters, getting that monkey off their back was really what mattered this tournament. To shake off that euphoria and have to go again less than 48 hours later carries its own challenges, but perhaps its own opportunities too.

This might both be the best and worst time to play for Pakistan. The high they’re on likely won’t be topped all tournament, but regathering the intensity necessary to see off their next opponents, New Zealand, cannot be easy. The celebrations might have carried on long into the Dubai night, but professionalism, and the necessity of the schedule, demands all those emotions be brushed aside for what will follow in Sharjah on Tuesday.

If the India game carried the emotions of an epic arch-rivalry, there’s a different kind of tense hostility to the clash against New Zealand. This, remember, is the side that pulled out of a tour of Pakistan minutes before the first game was due to be played citing security concerns; the spiraling chain reaction that followed saw England pull out, too, and the entire home season for Pakistan thrown into jeopardy. If a surging Pakistan can find a way to channel that righteous anger in Sharjah tomorrow, New Zealand have quite the task on their hands.

But while New Zealand’s pullout hurt Pakistan’s World Cup preparations significantly, it’s worth remembering Kane Williamson’s side didn’t gain much from the decision, either. The five extra T20I games they had lined up in Asia ahead of this tournament never materialised. While some of the squad did end up linking up with their IPL franchises in the UAE, that was never going to perfectly replicate playing as a team in the subcontinent. The two warm-up games they did get last week – against Australia and England – saw New Zealand turn in somewhat flat performances, finding themselves on the wrong end of the result each time.

But if Pakistan pride themselves on their unpredictability, New Zealand have turned consistency at ICC events into an art form. In a group where India suddenly look a shade vulnerable, they have their opportunity to state their credentials by getting one over a Pakistan side that might not have fully returned to earth after the stratospheric heights they hit on Sunday. They have among the most well-rounded bowling attacks of the tournament – high pace in Lockie Ferguson, bounce with Kyle Jamieson, swing with Trent Boult and variation with Tim Southee, in additions to both a legspinner – Ish Sodhi and a left arm orthodox bowler in Mitchell Santner. That adaptability means they can might be able to press any of a number of gameplans into service as the situation allows, and – to use that most tired of cliches – punch above their weight.

Form guide

Pakistan WWLLW (last five completed matches, most recent first)

New Zealand WLWLL

In the spotlight

It’s fairly obvious the most exciting aspect of the contest should be Shaheen Afridi against whichever New Zealand opener he finds himself bowling to, particularly if they’re right-handed. The Pakistan left-arm pacer’s first two overs burst through India’s top order on Sunday, and a match-up against someone like Martin Guptill should in theory favour the bowler. If Pakistan can get early wickets through their trump card once more, they might feel they can follow the template of the India game, restrict New Zealand to a below-par total, and allow Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan to do their thing.

The early evidence of the World Cup suggests these surfaces should suit Mitchell Santner‘s game rather well. Coming in from around the wicket, the left-arm offspin should be difficult to negotiate at any stage of the innings. If New Zealand feel aggressive enough, he might even open the bowling to mirror the role Imad Wasim will play for Pakistan, especially if he deploys the arm ball to good effect. He was arguably the pick of New Zealand’s bowlers in the warm-up games against Australia and England, and probably won’t get a better chance to lead the line in a global tournament.

Team news

Pakistan are extremely unlikely to change the side that brought them Sunday’s 10-wicket win.

Pakistan: (probable): 1 Babar Azam (capt) 2 Mohammad Rizwan (wk) 3 Fakhar Zaman 4 Mohammad Hafeez 5 Shoaib Malik 6 Asif Ali 7 Shadab Khan 8 Imad Wasim 9 Hasan Ali 10 Haris Rauf 11 Shaheen Shah Afridi

New Zealand played around with their combination during the warm-ups so their line-up is a bit less predictable. Two spinners, though is pretty much a lock, so expect Santner and Sodhi to both line up. The batting line-up, according to Williamson, is flexible, depending on conditions. The captain himself should be fit to play, despite an ongoing elbow niggle he described as a “work in progress”.

New Zealand (possible): 1 Martin Guptill 2 Devon Conway 3 Glenn Phillips 4 Kane Williamson (capt) 5 Tim Seifert (wk) 6 Daryl Mitchell/Todd Astle 7 Mitchell Santner 8 Tim Southee 9 Trent Boult 10 Lockie Ferguson/Kyle Jamieson 11 Ish Sodhi

Pitch and conditions

The surface in Sharjah might be conducive to bigger hitting than the ones in Dubai and Abu Dhabi are. The evidence of the Sri Lanka-Bangladesh clash on Sunday would appear to bear that out. This fixture, though, will be played on a new strip, but the low bounce in Sharjah could still be something to watch out for. Dew, too, could be a problem later into the night, which in theory might make fielding first an attractive option.

Stats and trivia

  • Pakistan have won three of the five T20 World Cup clashes against New Zealand, though Kane Williamson’s men won the most recent encounter in Mohali in 2016
  • Tim Southee is one wicket away from becoming the third bowler with 100 T20I wickets after Shakib al Hasan and Lasith Malinga


“It was a really disappointing situation. I know the team that were there were very much looking forward to the occasion and playing cricket over in Pakistan, and it was a real shame that it wasn’t able to go ahead”

Kane Williamson talks about New Zealand pulling out of last month’s tour of Pakistan

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000

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BPL 2022 – Nurul Hasan one among three to test positive from Fortune Barishal in lead up to BPL 2022




BCB’s chief physician says he had subsequently tested negative ahead of tournament opener, so Covid-19 cannot be behind him missing the game

Fortune Barishal wicketkeeper Nurul Hasan, who did not play their opening game in BPL 2022 on Friday, was one of three people to test positive from the franchise in the lead-up to the opener.

However, BCB chief physician Dr Debashis Chowdhury has said Nurul must have been kept out from the game for reasons other than Covid-19, as he had recovered and returned two negative tests, including on the morning of the match.

According to the franchise, the other two members of the Barishal team to test positive in the lead-up to the tournament were batter Munim Shahriar and batting coach Nazmul Abedeen Fahim.

Nurul will be tested again tomorrow. “We tested Nurul Hasan thrice,” Chowdhury said. “He was positive in the first test, and then returned negative results in the next two tests. There’s no problem from our side, so he must be missing the match due to some other reason.”

Barishal are the first team to make public details of the positive Covid-19 cases in their squad; the other franchises and the BCB have thus far remained tight-lipped about number of positive cases.

There are also reports in local media of six positive cases in the Khulna Tigers side, including that of Soumya Sarkar, and 12 positive cases overall among the BCB’s employees over the last four or five days.
The BPL is being held in the middle of a sudden surge in Covid-19 cases in Bangladesh, exacerbated by the Omicron variant. Confirmed cases crossed 10,000 on Thursday for the first time since August 2021, with positive cases growing to 29 times the number it was on January 1, 2022. The positivity rate in the country had reached 26%.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

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Recent Match Report – India vs South Africa 2nd ODI 2021/22




It’s a must-win game for India, and KL Rahul hoped the pitch will get slower at the match progresses

Toss India chose to bat vs South Africa

India captain KL Rahul opted to bat in the second ODI in Paarl, as India looked to keep the three-match series alive. India were unchanged and Rahul said the decision to bat was “straightforward” as the game was being played on the same pitch as the opening ODI, which South Africa won batting first, and he hoped the surface would get slower later on.
South Africa made one change by bringing in Sisanda Magala for the left-arm quick Marco Jansen. Captain Temba Bavuma said it was to manage Jansen’s workload, as he had played all three Tests and the first ODI as well. It will effectively be Magala’s first ODI with the ball as his debut game was washed out by rain two overs after South Africa started bowling against Netherlands last November.

Bavuma said they wanted to bat first too but he was confident there would be a “little opportunity” for the bowlers in the first hour.

It was another hot day in Paarl, and the temperature could get close to 40 degrees Celsius later in the day.

South Africa: 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 Janneman Malan, 3 Temba Bavuma (capt), 4 Aiden Markram, 5 Rassie van der Dussen, 6 David Miller, 7 Andile Phehlulwayo, 8 Sisanda Magala, 9 Keshav Maharaj, 10 Lungi Ngidi, 11 Tabraiz Shamsi

India: 1 KL Rahul (capt), 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Shreyas Iyer, 5 Rishabh Pant (wk), 6 Venkatesh Iyer, 7 R Ashwin, 8 Shardul Thakur, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal

Vishal Dikshit is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Sri Lanka tour of Australia




Having recovered from a side injury, the Australia pacer hopes to play in the IPL too, but concedes that the schedule could make it tough

Josh Hazlewood is set to return to action in next month’s five-match T20I series against Sri Lanka after his Ashes was curtailed to just one match because of a side strain. However, he does not expect to be able to feature in all Australia’s matches over the coming months.

“It’s been a frustrating couple of weeks, no doubt, watching away on TV with the rest of the country, but the boys have been fantastic,” he said at the announcement of 2022 Men’s T20 World Cup fixtures in Sydney. “Definitely back for the Sri Lankan T20s, can take it a bit easier now with New Zealand not coming, got a couple of weeks up my sleeve to get right.”

He picked up the side injury on the third day at the Gabba, in the first Ashes Test. After a recovery that has taken longer than he expected, Hazlewood had been on track to face New Zealand, but that limited-overs series was postponed earlier this week when the visitors were unable to secure a late allocation of MIQ rooms.

“It’s pretty much impossible to play all the games for Australia. We’ll have to prioritise whether it’s red-ball over white-ball or vice-versa, depending on how your body is travelling”

Josh Hazlewood

Hazlewood was one of the key players in Australia’s T20 World Cup triumph last November when he took 11 wickets in seven matches with an economy rate of 7.29, which included 3 for 16 in the final against New Zealand. Along with success for the 2021 IPL champions Chennai Super Kings, it made a stellar year in the format for Hazlewood, who felt the benefit of playing regularly.

“I expected to play a part in wins for Australia and get a game here and there in the IPL, but that opportunity for games in a row makes a huge difference,” he said. “You learn so much in each game, and they are each a bit different. It definitely exceeded what I thought I could do in that format, but I was quietly confident of playing my role.”

Hazlewood is eyeing a return to the IPL this year, but he conceded that there would be a demanding schedule with the added challenges of the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions. Australia are scheduled to tour Pakistan in March to play all formats and then to Sri Lanka in the middle of the year. Currently, there is also a brief T20I series in New Zealand in March, which players in Pakistan would miss, although that now appears unlikely to take place given the border restrictions.

“We’ve had a look at the schedule and gone through it, especially the multi-format guys, and I think it’s pretty much impossible to play all the games for Australia,” Hazlewood said. “We’ll have to prioritise whether it’s red-ball over white-ball or vice-versa, depending on how your body is travelling. As far as time away from home and bubble fatigue goes, there’s going to have to be some time put aside to hopefully get home for a week or two.”

While Hazlewood is keen for the T20Is against Sri Lanka next month, limited-overs captain Aaron Finch said the squad, which should be picked this weekend, will likely consider the amount of time players have spent in bubbles this season.

“It’ll be about giving guys enough time to rest and recharge, get time at home and connect with people because that’s probably one thing that we take a bit for granted,” Finch said. “Once you’re in the hubs and bubbles all the time, you’re restricted with who you can see. So, even catching up with family and friends is really important. There’ll be some different names in there, which will be really exciting.”

With only a year between the T20 World Cups, a huge turnover is not expected in the Australia squad, but one name tipped to get a chance to press his claims is the BBL’s leading run-scorer Ben McDermott, who has had a spectacular season for Hobart Hurricanes.

“He’s in super form. He’s got some big hundreds which dominate games,” Finch said. “I’d be very surprised if he’s not [there].”

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

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