New Zealand-Pakistan Tour Preview

New Zealand-Pakistan Tour Preview
New Zealand-Pakistan Tour Preview
©REUTERS/Nikhil Monterio (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES SPORT CRICKET) Picture Supplied by Action Images

The Pakistan squad has arrived in New Zealand to play three Twenty20 Internationals, two Tests and six One-Day Internationals.They will be hoping that their focus is not diluted by off-field incidents. Three Pakistani players, Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir - are under investigation for their alleged involvement in the spot-fixing controversy, and await decision from ICC's anti-corruption tribunal, in the second week of January in Doha.

Pakistan begin their tour with a warm-up game in Auckland which begins on Thursday (23rd December) before the three-match T20 series gets underway at Eden Park on Boxing Day. Coach Waqar Younis will have his task cut out in the six ODI games to try out various combinations with a young side 

On the other hand, the hosts are coming off a losing streak of 11 consecutive games that has left their preparation in a muddle ahead of the 2011 World Cup.

As a result of the wretched outing in India, former India coach, John Wright, the Black cap’s fourth coach in two years has replaced Mark Greatbatch as New Zealand's coach, while Daniel Vettori has lost his power as a selector. It will be interesting to see how he addresses their batting vagaries.

Wright has very little time to get the team together and turn things around against a volatile Pakistan outfit. New Zealand team has sustained a lean patch, registering two-wins in the last 19 Tests. He would like to interact with the players in the Kiwi camp before their T20 encounter against Pakistan on 26th December.

However, Mark Greatbatch will stay on as a batting coach in New Zealand's high-performance programme as following a review of the team's recent tour of India.

Pakistan played on docile tracks against South Africa recently. However, playing in New Zealand would be different, where their bowling attack will get assistance from the conditions.

Though the one-day internationals will be of keen interest as a dress rehearsal for getting the nucleus of the squad for the World Cup in the subcontinent. Both sides get a final chance to get their house sorted.

Pakistan’s previous assignment will be remembered by the bizarre exit of wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider, who fled to the United Kingdom, fearing for his life.  However, Pakistan will be praying quietly that this tour doesn’t produce any controversy or scandal. To bring Pakistan cricket back on track, they need to shift their focus on the field.

Amit Masram

Cricket World 2010