Tom Blundell called up as New Zealand name final 15-man squad for 2019 ICC World Cup

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A surprise call up for Tom Blundell.

Wicketkeeper Tom Blundell was the surprise call up as New Zealand named their final 15-man squad for the upcoming 2019 ICC World Cup to be held in England.

28-year-old Blundell made his Test debut for New Zealand in December, 2017 and instantly made an impact with a superb century. The right-hander has so far played two Tests and three T20s but is yet to be capped at the ODI level for New Zealand.

Blundell’s inclusion was the biggest talking point from the final 15-man squad as the Blackcaps became the first of the 10 teams to confirm their personnel for the World Cup.

Meanwhile, Ish Sodhi beat off competition from fellow leg-spinner Todd Astle to take his spot as the second spinner in the Kiwi side which also includes Mitchell Santner.

“As with any squad named for a major tournament, there’s had to be some tough calls and there will be some disappointed players,” New Zealand head coach Gary Stead stated.

“The key for us was finding the right balance for the squad and making sure we had our bases covered for what is going to be a very competitive World Cup. As a one-day unit we’ve been pretty consistent over the past few years and possess a very experienced group of core players, proven at the top level.

“The World Cup is the pinnacle of cricket and to be the first nation to name a squad for the tournament is really exciting. I’d like to congratulate all the players selected. To represent your country at a World Cup is a huge honour and I know the entire squad and support staff are looking forward to the challenges ahead.”

The Kiwis open their World Cup campaign on June 1 with a clash against Sri Lanka at Cardiff.

NEW ZEALAND 15-MAN SQUAD

Kane Williamson (captain), Martin Guptill, Henry Nicholls, Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, Colin Munro, Tom Blundell, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Jimmy Neesham, Ish Sodhi, Matt Henry, Lockie Ferguson, Tim Southee, Trent Boult.

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Pakistan ODI player ratings v Australia as Haris Sohail, Mohammad Rizwan get an 8 but Imam-ul-Haq disappoints

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Sohail was Pakistan's man of the series with two centuries.

Pakistan‘s 2019 ICC World Cup preparations have suffered the worst possible scenario after they were handed a crushing 5-0 loss by Australia in the ODI series held in the UAE.

The comprehensive loss was only the fourth time in history that the Men in Green had been blanked 5-0 in a bilateral series. Nothing seemed to go right for Mickey Arthur and his men against the Aussies with the absence of several senior stars like Sarfraz Ahmed dearly felt.

Having been swept aside by Aaron Finch and his men, questions will be asked of Pakistan’s World Cup credentials and rightly so.

Here, we look at how the Pakistan players fared in the five losses and rate each of them out of 10.

Imam-ul-Haq – 4

The Pakistan opener has an excellent ODI record in his short career so far but he was way below his best in his three appearances in the series where he could only register a high score of 46.

Not the best of series for Imam-ul-Haq.

Not the best of series for Imam-ul-Haq.

Shan Masood – 5

The left-hander was handed his ODI debut on the back of his impressive Test displays but failed to really seize his chance with some mixed displays. A half-century in the final ODI was his saving grace.

Abid Ali – 7

The 31-year-old became only the third Pakistan batsman to register a ton on his ODI debut in a promising start to his international career. Was dismissed for a duck in the final ODI however.

Haris Sohail – 8

The top-order batsman was one of the few positives for Pakistan from an otherwise shambolic display. The two centuries scored by Sohail should confirm his spot in Pakistan’s World Cup squad as well.

Mohammad Rizwan – 8

The wicketkeeper batsman’s display was perhaps the brightest spark in a series to forget for Pakistan with Rizwan crafting two excellent centuries. Might have confirmed his World Cup ticket as well.

Two well-crafted tons from the reserve wicketkeeper batsman.

Two well-crafted tons from the reserve wicketkeeper batsman.

Umar Akmal – 5

The middle-order batsman was given a new lease of life in international cricket but he squandered that away after failing to register a single half-century in his five appearances.

Shoaib Malik – 7

The veteran batsman did his part in the first three ODIs with an excellent half-century in Sharjah before his series was cut short.

Saad Ali – 3

The 25-year-old was given two outings to prove his worth but he failed miserably with a combined score of just 11 runs.

Faheem Ashraf – 6

The Pakistan all-rounder made just two appearances before he was handed a well-deserved rest. Did not really create the impact that would have been expected from him, especially with the ball.

Imad Wasim – 7

The stand-in Pakistan skipper looked in good touch with both bat and ball, especially the former where he played some handy quick-fire cameos down the order.

Yasir Shah – 5

The senior Pakistan leg-spinner was given a chance to prove his limited-overs credentials in the absence of Shadab Khan but he failed to really rise to the occasion with just four wickets to show for. Has probably killed any hopes he had of a World Cup call up.

Mohammad Hasnain – 5

The 18-year-old pacer was handed a debut after his excellent Pakistan Super League displays. He went wicket-less in two of his appearances and picked up two scalps in the third. Showed some promise with his raw pace but has some way to go before he can establish himself as a permanent member of the squad.

Usman Shinwari – 7

The pick of Pakistan’s pacers in the five-match series, Shinwari more than did his part by picking up five wickets in three matches including a four-wicket haul in the final ODI at Dubai.

Five wickets for Shinwari in the series in three matches.

Five wickets for Shinwari in the series in three matches.

Mohammad Abbas – 5

The Pakistan Test specialist was decent at best in his three appearances which fetched him two wickets. The seamer did not look as effective with the white-ball in hand and it will be a surprise to see him get further chances in the shorter formats.

Junaid Khan – 5

A mixed display for the pacer who has found opportunities hard to come by on a consistent basis at the international level. Did pick up three wickets in the final ODI but was also pretty expensive.

Mohammad Amir – 4

The senior Pakistan pacer’s limited-overs woes continued unabated with his World Cup credentials now looking extremely dicey. Amir was taken for 59 runs in the first ODI without any wickets to show for before being summarily dropped for the remainder of the series. Where does Amir go from here?

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Justin Langer backs in-form Glenn Maxwell to become Australia's Virat Kohli

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Maxwell has been in red-hot form for Australia of late.

Head coach Justin Langer believes Glenn Maxwell can be the Virat Kohli for Australia if he can maintain the remarkable consistency he has displayed in the recent ODI series against Pakistan and India.

Maxwell was in sensational form as Australia came from behind to beat India 3-2 in their own backyard before inflicting a 5-0 whitewash over Pakistan in the UAE.

The right-handed batsman’s career has been plagued by inconsistency but he has been in the mood over the last two months with his form in the series win over Pakistan being exceptional.

In the final three ODIs against Pakistan, Maxwell registered scores of 71, 98 and 70. Langer believes that the 30-year-old is capable of translating the form in limited-overs cricket into the Test format as well.

“The challenge for him is, and I’ve said this to him – we’ve just seen Virat Kohli, who is an extraordinarily talented player, he averages 60 (59.57) in ODI cricket; he is a great player – at the moment, in 99 games, Maxi averages 32 or 33. He can be Virat Kohli. He has got the talent to do that,” Langer was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.

Maxwell was sensational against both India and Pakistan.

Maxwell was sensational against both India and Pakistan.

“The way he played that T20 hundred in India, the way he played both T20s – we know he’s a great T20 player. His next challenge is to become a great ODI player and then potentially a Test player.

“So, there’s huge upside for him and while he keeps practicing with the purpose he’s got and winning games of cricket like he is, it’s great to have him. It’s obviously a massive challenge, isn’t it?”

Australia’s 20-run win over Pakistan in Dubai on Sunday was Maxwell’s 100th ODI appearance for his country. The right-hander has now scored 2,700 runs in those matches at an average of 33.33 with the help of one ton and 19 half-centuries.

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