Pakistan v New Zealand: Imam-ul-Haq, Boult and others to watch

Waseem Ahmed 23:41 06/11/2018
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Imam-ul-Haq is back in action for Pakistan.

With the T20 series done and dusted, Pakistan and New Zealand now turn their attentions to the three-match ODI series that begins at Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

The men in green were highly impressive in the T20s as they recorded a second consecutive 3-0 series clean sweep in the UAE but they will be up against it in the ODIs given their recent record against the Kiwis.

The Blackcaps have won 11 straight ODIs against Pakistan on the bounce coming into the series. As Sarfraz Ahmed’s men look to break that dreadful sequence, we look at three players from each team who could have a decisive impact on the series.

PAKISTAN

BABAR AZAM

The Pakistan batting lynchpin is in the midst of a purple patch as shown by his performances in the preceding T20 series against the same opponents. The right-hander bettered Virat Kohli’s record to become the fastest batsman to notch up 1,000 runs in the format, taking only 26 innings to get to the mark.

The 24-year-old was completely on top of the Kiwi bowlers in the three matches and will be looking to carry over that good form in the ODI series as well.

In the midst of a purple patch: Babar Azam.

In the midst of a purple patch: Babar Azam.

JUNAID KHAN

The left-armed pacer did not feature in the T20 series but is back in tow for the ODIs. The 28-year-old has found opportunities hard to come by in recent years despite being a consistent performer in the international circuit.

With Mohammad Amir now out of the picture, Junaid is ready to play a starring role for Pakistan with the ball. Despite Pakistan crashing out unceremoniously in the recent Asia Cup, the pacer was on song on the UAE wickets and will look to do more of the same against the Kiwis.

Junaid impressed in the recent Asia Cup.

Junaid impressed in the recent Asia Cup.

IMAM-UL-HAQ

The left-handed opening batsman was in fine flow in the Test series against Australia before sustaining a finger injury which ruled him out of the T20 series against the same opponents as well as New Zealand.

Back to full fitness and raring to go, Imam will be itching to continue the terrific start he has made to life in international cricket. The 22-year-old already has four ODI tons to his name in just 14 innings and you wouldn’t count it against him to add to that tally in the upcoming three matches.

The youngster has already notched up four ODI tons.

The youngster has already notched up four ODI tons.

NEW ZEALAND

TRENT BOULT

New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson would have loved to have the services of their premier pacer Trent Boult in the T20 series. The left-armer was on paternity leave during the T20s and his absence was dearly felt by the tourists in each of the three losses.

The 29-year-old is as experienced a campaigner as they come in limited-overs cricket and has the ability to adapt to any kind of conditions. Slow wickets or not, expect Boult to make his mark in the UAE.

Boult will bring the heat to the UAE in the ODIs.

Boult will bring the heat to the UAE in the ODIs.

COLIN MUNRO

The explosive opener looked in excellent form in the T20 series with scores of 58 and 44 in the first two games. Capable of taking the game away in an instant with his outstanding hitting powers, Munro will be key to providing New Zealand with the blazing starts with the bat.

The 31-year-old has always been a hit in the T20 format but is yet to leave his mark in the one-dayers. With no ODI tons to his name so far, the Pakistan series could be the perfect chance for the southpaw to register his maiden one.

In-form Munro will be desperate for a maiden ODI ton.

In-form Munro will be desperate for a maiden ODI ton.

ISH SODHI

The wily leg-spinner will carry New Zealand’s spin hopes in the series and will be extremely key on the slower surfaces in the UAE.

He was decent without really standing out in the three T20s but he will know he is capable of much better with the white-ball.

If he can find his rhythm in the UAE, the 26-year-old can be a handful for the Pakistan batsmen with his guile and numerous variations in his armoury.

Sodhi will lead New Zealand's spin hopes in the series.

Sodhi will lead New Zealand’s spin hopes in the series.

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