1st ODI: Azhar-led Pakistan look to end NZ domination in longer format

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Injury problems and unavailability of key batsmen as well as important seam bowlers in recent limited-overs encounters have been frustrating for New Zealand.

The Kiwis will be without their three most experienced batters when they go out to face Pakistan in the first ODI on Monday.

Despite not having a full squad at their disposal, the hosts seem to be the more dangerous team which has won seven of the nine games they’ve played this summer.

New Zealand have been able to fill these gaps with their consistency when it comes to recognising and polishing upcoming talent.

Martin Guptill, the highest run maker in ODIs in 2015 took the responsibility to thrash opponents right from the start while southpaw Colin Munro has established himself as New Zealand’s lethal weapon at number three.

Mitchell Santner adds up to the excellence the Kiwis possess when it comes to fielding and has proven himself as a utility cricketer.

Although one-day cricket is a different story from T20s — it is the never-ending form that has kept New Zealand on winning ways since early 2015.

In contrast, Pakistan are reeling from a humiliating defeat in the T20 series.

Some changes have taken place in the visitors’ dressing room.

Veteran Shahid Afridi has flown back home and a younger face, Azhar Ali is now set to lead Pakistan and must be feeling the pressure against the dynamic Kiwis.

Other changes include the addition of two left-arm pacers in Mohammad Irfan and Rahat Ali.

The spin department will be minus Shahid Afridi for the longer format.

Pakistan’s batting has lived up to their reputation of being inconsistent and lacking depth.

Despite series victories against Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe last year, defeats against Bangladesh and England have been painful for Pakistan as they look to kick off another difficult series.

On a hard Basin Reserve track tinged slightly green in earlier stages of the game, Azhar will need the experience at the top order to deliver.

Veterans Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez will play key roles.

Pakistan’s bowling attack will be likely made up of left-armers – with Imad Wasim to lead the spin department.

Squads:

New Zealand (probable): Tom Latham, Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson (capt.), Colin Munro, Grant Elliott, Corey Anderson, Luke Ronchi (wk), Mitchell Santner, Adam Milne, Matt Henry, Trent Boult

Pakistan (probable): Azhar Ali (capt.), Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Babar Azam/ Sohaib Maqsood, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Rizwan, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Imad Wasim, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Irfan

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