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Facing the Kiwis

Nigah Muhammad

The writer is a reporter and journalist.

Despite the rising coronavirus fears, the national cricket team has departed for New Zealand for their T20I and ODI series. PSL hero Babar Azam is leading the Pakistani side to face the Kiwis. Prior to departure, he said there is no pressure on the team and hoped they will emerge victorious.

It will be a competitive contest as both sides are equally matched. Pakistan a young, dynamic squad but this does not imply they lack the skills. All players demonstrated their prowess and performance in the just concluded PSL playoffs and made it to the team. Thus, the series with New Zealand is set to be a thrilling contest as both sides faces off each other. Cricket stands will remain empty devoid of cheering fans and it will be up to the on-field players to set up the firecrackers.

If we look at the past, Pakistan has failed to deliver any exceptional performances against Australia and New Zealand on their territory.

Not just Pakistan but Asian teams often struggle on the bouncy pitches as compared to the flat ones back home. It may be summer in New Zealand but history is not on our sides and we have a dismal track against the Aussies and Kiwis.

Pakistan did not show any exceptional performance during the England tour earlier this year either. The pitch conditions and British weather did not suit our players. During the New Zealand tour, Pakistan will have to learn from its mistakes and adjust to the pitch and climate if it want to make an impact. The PSL performances were on home ground but the situation will be much different for our batsmen.

Ever since Pakistan gained Test status in 1952, it has always performed well on dead pitches. Batsmen pile up runs and smash sixes in domestic series but struggle on foreign pitches. An excellent example is FawadAlam who was discarded for nine years. He is the highest runs scorer but failed to score when he was recently given the opportunity against England.

PCB has always been in a crisis ahead of every tour either relating to leadership or a scandal. Just days before, Babar Azam was selected as the captain of all three formats. This series is seen as preparation for the upcoming T20 World Cup in India next year. Pakistan is capable of tackling the Kiwis under skipper Babar Azam who has shown brilliant performance throughout the year. The captaincy burden could overshadow his performance but the expectation have already raised high.

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