After their victory against India in the warm-up game, Pakistan should have the mental edge over any team. They should feel confident after that victory because it tested Pakistan in every possible manner and the boys finally came out on top. But, inconsistency has been their major worry. One day they will chase down 180-plus and the very next day, they will struggle to reach 100-plus. One has to remember that Pakistan is not a team full of special players who will win games single-handedly. It is a team where players will put in collective effort and the result will be there for all to see.
Before delving into the Pakistan-New Zealand tie, I would like to make a few observations about India. India have a powerful batting line-up but Dhoni has to put some serious thought into his bowling. Zaheer, Irfan, Balaji are medium pacers and bigger opponents will launch into them.
When you have pace in your attack, batsmen won't take the chance of leaving the crease and slogging, which Kamran did against Irfan, Balaji and Zaheer. As the tournament wears on, the pitches will become a bit slow and double-paced. It will be even more difficult to play attacking shots against genuine pace on a double-paced track.
Besides, against genuine pace any batter in the world has some mental reservation, which, in a T20 game, will work to your advantage, as batsmen don't get time to settle.
Also, against big teams, I have my doubts about how much Yuvraj, Raina and Rohit Sharma will deliver with the ball on these hard surfaces in Sri Lanka. So, Dhoni will have to find a way out.
Coming back to the Pakistan-New Zealand tie, I think these are two teams who have played against each other quite often in this format of the game. So, the teams know each other very well.
New Zealand batters have a fair bit of idea about Pakistan's strong points --- Saeed Ajmal and Shahid Afridi. If I remember correctly, Ross Taylor played one of his best innings against Pakistan in the 2011 World Cup in sub-continent conditions.
So, Pakistan have to be careful against the Kiwis. New Zealand have always been a competitive side.
They have players like Brendon McCullum, Taylor, Vettori, who are game-changers and the rest are bits-and-pieces cricketers who rally around them. This makes them a formidable force.
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The writer is a former Pakistan skipper