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Kiwis, Pak lock horns with pride at stake

With New Zealand cricket in turmoil on the field and Pakistan in tumult off it, there is plenty at stake for both sides when they launch a 11-match series with a Twenty20 game in Auckland on Sunday.

cricket Updated: Dec 26, 2010 00:16 IST

With New Zealand cricket in turmoil on the field and Pakistan in tumult off it, there is plenty at stake for both sides when they launch a 11-match series with a Twenty20 game in Auckland on Sunday.

Over the next seven weeks New Zealand and Pakistan will attempt to turn their fortunes around as they play three T20s, two Tests and six one-dayers before heading to the subcontinent for the one-day World Cup.

Pakistan's internal turmoil has forced them to field a spare-parts team with several of their stars left at home including alleged spot-fixers Salman Butt, Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif. To add to the pressure, they were skittled out for a meagre 91 by Auckland in their one-day warm up game and then saw the home side overhaul the target for the loss of only five wickets and with nearly seven overs to spare. It was not the start to the tour that coach Waqar Younis wanted but he was adamant things would be different when the internationals start.

New Zealand have rushed in former opening bat John Wright to coach the Black Caps, who have lost their last 11 one-day internationals.

Wright, who made his mark as an international coach when he turned India's fortunes around in the first half of this decade, has not been wanted by New Zealand until now, with the team in its second-worst run of defeats. It remains to be seen how the senior players will adapt to his no-nonsense style but the player power base built around Daniel Vettori as captain, selector and has clearly not worked.