Expected Lineups | Road To Semis | Pakistan vs New Zealand Match Preview:
For the last time in this tournament, the air of the Sydney Cricket Ground will be filled with nervous excitement, enthusiasm, zeal and thrill as the historic ground will host the semi finalists Pakistan and New Zealand for a potential cliffhanger on Wednesday.
Road to Semis:
The journey of the New Zealand team so far in the world cup has been smooth, atleast much smoother than other teams. Being the table toppers of the first group and unbeaten for the most part of the tournament, the men led by Kane Williamson will enter the SCG with only one thing in their mind: victory. The Black caps had the misfortune of losing the final of Tri-nation series from Pakistan in their own backyard earlier in October. Thus, this encounter against Babar’s men could have never occured at a time better than this for the men in black to rectify their mistakes and try to restore what they lost in Christchurch last month.
Pakistan’s entry into the semi-finals has been a mystery even Sherlock Holmes will have a hard time solving. The Shaheens not a fortnight ago, sat at the penultimate position of the table with 0 points next to their name and an ominous negative NRR. Out of nowhere, the Cornered Tigers of Babar Azam lunged at those who were eyeing to capture them, and remained ready to strangle anyone who came their way. Their three back to back victories along with everything going their way rattled the foundations of conventional wisdom. However, whatever happened on Sunday will truly matter only when the men in green make sure to triumph over the Kiwis in the first playoff.
HEAD TO HEAD:
Out of the 28 times both semi-finalists came face to face with each other on field, Pakistan bagged victory 17 times while the black caps won the remaining 11 matches.
WEATHER AND PITCH REPORT:
According to the Bureau of Meteorology, there is a 20% chance of rain in Sydney on match day. Fog will rule in the early parts of the morning and winds will take over during the day. However, the evening is expected to be clear and a little chilly for the match.
Sydney Cricket Ground is the maximum resemblance to the sub-continent pitch conditions Australia can offer. This is because the SCG welcomes spinners with open arms and an enchanting turn which helps them deceive the batters to send them back to the pavilion.
Batters, too, find the pitch very friendly to bat on. The flat track and quick outfield ensure that the scoreboard keeps increasing the figures higher and higher. Although, the batters will be disappointed not to find here, the characteristic true bounce of the pitches down under, the batters will still see themselves stroking the ball conveniently and gracefully. Under the floodlights, the team batting first scores around 170 on average.
The spinners, as mentioned earlier, will play a huge role in the first Semi-final here. As the pitch becomes old and cracky, the pitch starts favoring the spinners more. Pacers can have their say in the initial stages or in case rain tries to intervene, the pacers can use the wet pitch to their advantage.
The boundaries at the square side are the shortest here but clearing the straight boundaries will create problems for the batsmen owing to their huge size.
Toss will play a major role as five out of six tournament matches the SCG has hosted so far were bested by the sides batting first.
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PLAYING XI (PROBABLE):
Pakistan: Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Haris, Shan Masood, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Wasim, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf.
New Zealand: Finn Allen, Devon Conway (wk), Kane Williamson (c), Glenn Phillips, Daryl Mitchell, James Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Ish Sodhi, Lockie Ferguson.
The all-important encounter will demand the side batting first to cash in as much from the powerplay as possible. For this to happen, the top-order batters need to give the team a fiery start. Unfortunately for Pakistan, their openers are facing a very rough patch of their careers which started the moment they set their foot on Australian soil. This rough patch has affected the team as a whole a lot, both in positive and negative ways. In the list of teams with the highest score during the power plays in the mega event, Pakistan falls at the 9th position compared to the Kiwis 5th position. This difference can cause problems for the men in green if they don’t utilize the powerplay to its maximum.
Their strong batting side, which has gained more strength after Kane Williamson’s return to form, makes the Kiwis favorites for the game tomorrow.
WHERE TO WATCH:
TV Broadcast: Sky Sports Cricket, Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Mix, Star Sports, Fox Sports 501 & Channel 9 HD, 9GemHD.
PTV Sports and A Sports will broadcast the match on television for viewers in Pakistan.
Digital Broadcast: Sky GO, Sky Sports app, Daraz app, AryZap, Tapmad.