Kiwis look to ‘do the job’ against Pak
An early elimination final for Pakistan as a defeat to New Zealand today would all but end their semifinal hopes, while the Black Caps need to snap a three-match losing streak to get their campaign back on track at the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023.
New Zealand would have entered this match at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru as a clear favourite just one week ago, but some injury concerns in the Kiwi camp and a form turnaround from Pakistan means it's difficult to determine who will emerge as the winner.
With question marks surrounding the fitness of key quicks Lockie Ferguson and Matt Henry, New Zealand have called on the services of proven pacer Kyle Jamieson and the tall right-armer may be considered for this match should the Black Caps attempt to include him as a replacement player.
Skipper Kane Williamson will be monitored as he continues to recover from his thumb concern, while Pakistan look more settled now with the return of opener Fakhar Zaman to their line-up.
Fakhar torched Bangladesh with a stylish half-century last start and can often be relied upon to get Pakistan off to a fast start alongside the reliable Abdullah Shafique.
It will be interesting to see whether Pakistan include another specialist bowler against New Zealand, or continue to call on Iftikhar Ahmed to perform with the ball as he has done reasonably well over the last few games.
Pakistan will be hoping their quicks -- led by freshly crowned No.1 ranked ODI bowler Shaheen Afridi -- can put a massive dent in New Zealand's top order and this battle will go a long way in determining who comes out on top in Bengaluru.
New Zealand's in-form batter Daryl Mitchell on Friday backed injury-plagued New Zealand "to do a job" against Pakistan.
New Zealand have been hit by setbacks throughout the tournament and after winning their first four games have since lost three in succession.
The Kiwis were left with just 11 fit players before their last game against South Africa which they lost by 190 runs.
"A number of guys have got to get through fitness tests and pass them and we probably won't know till tonight and tomorrow morning how they pull up. We back everyone within our squad to have success and do a job for the team," said Mitchell.
India have already wrapped up one of the semifinal places and South Africa are virtually assured of also making the last four.
That has left Australia and New Zealand both on eight points but under pressure from Pakistan and Afghanistan in the race for the final two spots.
"Look, for us, every game in this tournament is vitally important," said Mitchell, who has 346 runs in six innings.
"They're all worth two points. And for us, again, it's just showing up and playing the Black Caps style of cricket."
Mitchell described Pakistan as a strong team, having played eight one-day internationals against them this year.
"They're world-class and have been for a long time," said Mitchell of Pakistan who beat New Zealand in the 2019 World Cup.
Meanwhile, Pakistan also have one injury problem as all-rounder Shadab Khan, who suffered a concussion against South Africa and did not play against Bangladesh, remains a doubt for today's game as well. Pakistan informed that Shadab "came through a preliminary test okay" yesterday but they are "yet to make a decision on him".
*Pakistan have 60 wins New Zealand's 51 in 115 ODIs. One contest ended in a tie while three matches produced no results.
*Pakistan won five of the eight ODIs played against New Zealand this year and have a 4-1 record in their last five meetings. All eight matches were played in Pakistan.
*Pakistan boast a 7-2 advantage against the Blackcaps in World Cup encounters.
*Both teams have never faced off against each other at the Chinaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru but have played at the venue before. New Zealand lost all of their three matches, while Pakistan had two losses and a win at the venue.
*New Zealand will look to put a halt to their skid after losing three matches on the trot. On the other hand, Pakistan were able to keep their semifinal hopes alive after ending a four-match losing streak with a win against Bangladesh.
*Pakistan opener Fakhar Zaman averages 59.60 having amassed 833 runs in 16 matches against New Zealand. His impressive record includes a hattrick of centuries, including an unbeaten 180, against the Blackcaps earlier this year.