Misbah weighs heavy on Kiwi minds
In this age of excessive cricket, the Pakistanis are probably the freshest bunch of cricketers in the World Cup. As all Pakistan’s home series have either been cancelled or shifted to neutral venues since the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team in March 2009, they hardly played international cricket before the big event.cricket Updated: Mar 07, 2011 01:02 IST
In this age of excessive cricket, the Pakistanis are probably the freshest bunch of cricketers in the World Cup. As all Pakistan’s home series have either been cancelled or shifted to neutral venues since the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team in March 2009, they hardly played international cricket before the big event.
This, combined with a plethora of comebacks and suspensions, has also made them a relatively unknown entity among many teams.
Kiwis know them
However, as they top Group A on the back of a comprehensive victory against Kenya, surprise win against Sri Lanka and scratchy success against Canada, they would enjoy little advantage of being the unknown in their next tie against New Zealand here on Tuesday.
Of the 34 ODIs Pakistan played in the last 18 months, almost a third have been against the Kiwis. Considering that the six-match series between the two teams concluded a fortnight before the World Cup opener, it wouldn’t be a surprise that both are well versed with each other.
However, even though Pakistan, who had a rigorous training session at the Pallekele International Stadium on Sunday, had won the six-match series 3-2, the series showed that there was little to differentiate between the two teams.
“It was a fairly close series and in all games both teams had a chance of winning. You look at the T20s and we won those
convincingly and the ODIs it was a bit more closely contested,” New Zealand’s key pacer Tim Southee said before their training.
“We would take confidence from the last game at Eden Park which we won, so the guys are in a good space and looking forward to the game. It's a chance to put the wrongs we did against Australia and turn them into rights.”
what’s on their mind
While Pakistan have been the only unbeaten side so far, New Zealand will inch a step closer to the knockout stage with a victory against the Men in Green. But for that too happen, the Kiwis will have to dismiss Misbah-ul-Haq cheaply.
Misbah, who has scored 388 runs in his last seven outings that included four innings against the Kiwis, made the difference during Pakistan's series win in New Zealand.
No wonder, Southee and his bowling partners were spending a lot of time on the drawing board discussing ways to get rid of Misbah.
“He has obviously been having a great period not just against NZ but also in the World Cup. He is in a rich vein of form, so hopefully we have learnt from the way we bowled against him in New Zealand and we can work on a couple of things to try and put an end to the form he is in,” Southee said.