Cricket World Cup 2019: Mohammad Amir carries Pakistan hopes in must-win clash v New Zealand

Waseem Ahmed 25/06/2019
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Pakistan's Mohammad Amir (r) has been among the top wicket-takers.

Pakistan simply have to win their remaining three 2019 World Cup matches to have any hope of qualifying for the semi-finals, with England’s earlier slip-up against Sri Lanka opening up the tournament.

On paper, it seems a straightforward proposition but it will be anything but that on Wednesday when the Men in Green take on unbeaten New Zealand in Birmingham.

After a comprehensive loss to India, Pakistan struck back with a thumping win over South Africa. However, their job will only get tougher against Kane Williamson’s Kiwis who will make it to the semis should they win.

MOHAMMAD AMIR v LOCKIE FERGUSON

New Zealand pacer Lockie Ferguson.

New Zealand pacer Lockie Ferguson.

We are seeing a rejuvenated Mohammad Amir at this tournament, who is among the leading wicket-takers after struggling to pick up a wicket for the whole of the 2018/19 season.

The swing and pace is back, which has forced the opposition to see out his new ball spell and go after other bowlers. It’s just that he hasn’t received consistent support from the other end. He will be raring to have a go against Kiwi openers Martin Guptill and Colin Munro who were out for golden ducks in the previous match.

His battle against Williamson will decide the outcome of the match as the Kiwi skipper has gone from strength to strength, putting in scores of 40, 79*, 106* and 148. The Kiwis will be hoping that trend continues.

And while Pakistan will be relying on Amir to keep the experienced Kiwi batting line-up in check, the Blackcaps have a gun pacer in their own line-up to strike back with.

Lockie Ferguson has been firing on all cylinders so far, picking up 14 wickets from five games while being among the top three fastest bowlers of the tournament. His sizzling pace in the middle overs offer New Zealand unprecedented control and precision.

OPENING POWERPLAY

Pakistan bowling coach Azhar Mahmood said it will be imperative to make an impact with the new ball in the opening powerplay.

“They are a very strong side and have won all their games,” Mahmood said.

“They’ve got match-winners in their side, so it’s going to be crucial for us to take wickets with the new ball. And when we bat, we need to get runs up front.

“If we can get our discipline right like last game – in batting, bowling and fielding – then we can beat any side. If we do the basics right, it’s just about us, not them.”

LIKELY XIs

New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham (wk), James Neesham, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Matt Henry, Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult

Pakistan: Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Haris Sohail, Sarfaraz Ahmed (c and wk), Imad Wasim, Wahab Riaz, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Amir, Shaheen Afridi

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Watch: India train indoors ahead of CWC 2019 clash against West Indies

Sport360 staff 25/06/2019
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India coach Ravi Shastri talks with all-rounder Vijay Shankar.

Bad weather in Manchester forced India to train indoors on Tuesday, two days ahead of their match against the West Indies in the 2019 World Cup.

India, along with New Zealand, are the two undefeated teams remaining in the tournament, though they were pushed to the limit by an unfancied Afghanistan in their previous match.

The match against the Windies, who are already eliminated from the tournament, may see India trying out players like Dinesh Karthik, Rishabh Pant or Ravindra Jadeja – all of whom are yet to play a game.







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CWC 2019 Extra: More than 1 billion views and counting in ongoing World Cup

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The 2019 World Cup is on track to break previous records, having already registered over 1 billion views across ICC’s platforms and social media channels.

On top of that, television figures from India stood at 342 million before the blockbuster India-Pakistan match. Hotstar, ICC’s digital broadcast partner in India, got a record 15.6 million peak live viewers for the India-Pakistan match – which is a record for an international match. Similar numbers were witnessed for the India v Afghanistan cliffhanger.

In the UK, Sky TV has taken the tournament to six million viewers so far. Across other fixtures on Sky Television, the India-Australia match had the highest unique audience at 3.14 million.

ICC Chief Executive Manu Sawhney said: “This is a remarkable level of fan engagement which cements the ICC World Cup 2019 among the world’s biggest and best sporting events. The positive trends that we are seeing around the number of fans engaged at this stage of the tournament gives us great confidence that all previous records will be shattered.”

STAT OF THE DAY

250 – Before the start of the England-Australia match, ODI cricket was at a unique position. According to statistician Mazher Arshad, since the previous World Cup, 250 ODIs were won by teams batting first and 250 by the teams batting second, with a handful of no results and ties.

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