Pakistan and New Zealand square off in one-day series in Dubai

Sport360 staff 13:57 06/12/2014
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Good and ready: New Zealand and Pakistan will battle each other hoping to build momentum for the World Cup.

Pakistan and New Zealand start a five-match one-day series in Dubai on Monday with the focus on building confidence and momentum for next year's World Cup, which is just two months away.

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It promises to be a keenly-fought contest after they ended honours even in both the three-Test series and the two-match Twenty20.

Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul Haq admitted his team can build confidence and momentum.

"This is one of our last chances before the World Cup, to look how we will go into the World Cup so the focus is on that," said Misbah on Saturday.

"Pitches are different here (from Australia and New Zealand where the World Cup is being hosted) but I still think the confidence and the momentum of this series will help us and it will not matter even if we are playing on different pitches here."

Pakistan have recalled experienced batsman Younis Khan after dropping him from the three-match one-day series against Australia which they lost 3-0 in October — also played in the United Arab Emirates. Misbah believes Younis will provide valuable experience.

"His experience will help us," said Misbah, also hinting Pakistan will go with a specialist opening pair instead of using wicket-keeper batsman Sarfraz Ahmed at the top of the order.

"We want to go in with genuine openers and want the first four batsmen settled before going to the World Cup," said Misbah, who praised New Zealand as a dangerous side. 

"New Zealand have adaptability and they have allrounders and good spinners who can win matches for their team," said Misbah.

Pakistan have been missing ace spinner Saeed Ajmal, suspended for an illegal bowling action two months ago and their problems were further compounded when all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez's action was also reported last month.

A report on Hafeez's action is expected next week and if he is suspended, Misbah believes it will hurt his team's balance.

"We were jolted after Ajmal's suspension and if Hafeez is not there then our balance will be affected," admitted Misbah.  

New Zealand's stand-in captain Kane Williamson — Brendon McCullum left after the Tests to prepare for the home series against Sri Lanka — said Pakistan remain a dangerous side even without Ajmal.

"We know it's a big challenge because Pakistan play well here, they have depth and even without Ajmal whichever side they put out is strong," said Williamson.
New Zealand play two Tests and seven one-day internationals against Sri Lanka starting later this month.

"There is so much cricket before the World Cup and this series is the focus but we are conscious of the big event," said Williamson.

All-rounder Corey Anderson will return after missing the second Twenty20 as a precautionary measure after being hit by a bouncer in the first Twenty20 on Thursday, but opener Martin Guptill is still being monitored for a tight hamstring.

The remaining one-day matches will be played in Sharjah (December 12 and 14) and Abu Dhabi (December 17 and 19).

TEAMS (from):
Pakistan: Misbah-ul Haq (capt), Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad, Asad Shafiq, Bilawal Bhatti, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Irfan, Nasir Jamshed, Sarfraz Ahmed, Shahid Afridi, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Akmal, Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz, Younis Khan, Zulfiqar Babar. 
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (capt), Corey Anderson, Dean Brownlie, Anton Devcich, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Adam Milne, James Neesham, Luke Ronchi, Ross Taylor, Daniel Vettori
Umpires: Aleem Dar (PAK) and Joel Wilson (WIS)
Tv umpire: Richard Illingworth (ENG)
Match referee: Roshan Mahanama (SRI)

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