Wellington -  Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed has his eyes set on continuing the team’s winning run in the five-match ODI series against New Zealand starting Saturday.

The winners of Champions Trophy 2017 are heading into the series with a winning streak of nine consecutive games. They then rolled the New Zealand side for 221 with openers hitting centuries and Shadab Khan taking four wickets.

"After Champions Trophy our players were boosted [a lot]. We have a lot of faith in our players and we have continued the same team with just one or two changes to give them a proper chance and make a good lineup,” Sarfraz said in a press conference in Wellington ahead of the first one-day international against New Zealand.

The skipper pointed out that Pakistan’s batting and bowling both have been performing well and the series will be a good contest against New Zealand as the Black Caps are equally good. “Fakhar Zaman is playing well, Hasan Ali, Shadab Khan and Amir are bowling well. So, we are confident to see some good cricket here,” he added.

Kiwis have a good record against Pakistan in New Zealand during recent years, but Sarfraz is hoping to change that pattern. “We have played here before, some are playing for the first time some played here before so we know how the conditions would be. We will try to sustain our position.”

Having walloped the West Indies without raising a sweat, New Zealand are also expecting a more rigorous workout when the one-day series against Pakistan begins. New Zealand dominated the West Indies in every game of their tour, but coach Mike Hesson was wary of the Pakistan threat. "They're as good a bowling attack as there is going around in world cricket at the moment. Certainly very varied. They've got wrist spinners, finger spinners, and left and right arm quicks," Hesson said. "They've got some very good performers and from a batting point of view they're experienced."

But they will have to adjust to New Zealand conditions with overnight rain forecast and strong southerly winds during the day, which could pose problems for top-order batsmen Fakhar, Azhar and Babar.

Fakhar, who averages 44.44 from nine ODIs, "has had a great start to his international career but has never toured New Zealand, so there will be challenges adapting to different conditions," said New Zealand quick Tim Southee.

On the Basin Reserve wicket and with the prospect of inclement weather, New Zealand can be expected to unleash the short ball that proved a valuable tool against the West Indies.

But Hesson said they had to pick their moments. "Against any side you've got to use your bouncer wisely and if you bowl good ones then that helps," the coach said.  "It's certainly not a matter of a bouncer barrage, it's just a matter of using it wisely and what you follow it up with is equally important. Both sides have got some genuine quicks and I'm pretty sure there will be some good grass on (the wicket) with the forecast."

Pakistan's bowling ranks are limited without the injured Junaid Khan, Usman Shinwari and Imad Wasim. But they do have the world's top-ranked ODI bowler Hasan Ali. Pakistan’s recent record against New Zealand is not that impressive.  Over the past three years they have been beaten 2-0 in two separate series and lost a home series to New Zealand in the United Arab Emirates 3-2.

TEAMS (FROM):

PAKISTAN: Sarfraz Ahmed (cap), Azhar Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik,  Mohammad Hafeez, Haris Sohail, Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali, Aamer Yamin, Rumman Raees.

NEW ZEALAND: Kane Williamson (cap), Todd Astle, George Worker, Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Colin Munro, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor.

 

 

Agencies