The World Cup is reaching fever pitch as the competition heats up with pivotal matches. This Saturday will showcase a crucial face-off in the tournament’s 35th ODI, with New Zealand and Pakistan clashing at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru, beginning at 10:30 a.m. IST.
New Zealand’s journey in the tournament has hit a snag. A few weeks ago, they were soaring high with eight points from four matches, but recent setbacks have seen them sliding down to the fourth spot on the points table with the same number of points from seven matches. The squad, led by Tom Latham in the absence of their regular captain Kane Williamson, has stumbled with consecutive losses to India, Australia, and South Africa. Adding to their woes is a growing list of injuries, putting additional strain on their campaign.
Conversely, Pakistan has turned a corner after a rocky start. Following a string of losses, they made a triumphant return against Bangladesh, which has kept them in the hunt for the semi-finals. The Pakistani team, led by Babar Azam, knows that every game is now a must-win if they are to secure a place in the knockout stages.
Let’s recap their performances so far. New Zealand kicked off with a robust start, with wins against several teams, but the recent games against stronger opponents have posed significant challenges. Their narrow miss in a high-scoring game against Australia and a crushing defeat by South Africa have been major blows.
Pakistan’s World Cup journey saw a promising start, but a defeat at the hands of India triggered a losing streak. They managed to regain some footing with a win against Bangladesh, maintaining their chances in the competition.
Historically, in head-to-head matches, Pakistan has a slight upper hand with 60 wins compared to New Zealand’s 51 out of 115 games.
Key Players To Watch In The Upcoming Match
Pakistan’s Shaheen Afridi, the leading wicket-taker for his team with a talent for striking in the middle overs.
For New Zealand, spinner Mitchell Santner will be essential, with his economic bowling and ability to take crucial wickets.
The Probable Teams:
Pakistan might come with a batting lineup that includes Abdullah Shafique and Fakhar Zaman opening, followed by Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Saud Shakeel, and Iftikhar Ahmed. The bowling could see Agha Salman, Usama Mir, Afridi, Haris Rauf, and Mohammad Wasim Jr. taking up the mantle.
New Zealand’s expected squad could feature Will Young and Devon Conway as openers, followed by Rachin Ravindra, Daryl Mitchell, and skipper Tom Latham. Glenn Phillips, James Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, and Trent Boult could form the rest of the playing XI.
As the match looms, predictions lean towards an intense encounter with Pakistan likely to come out with an aggressive approach, while New Zealand will be eager to break their losing streak. With semi-final prospects on the line, this match is set to be a decisive one for both teams.