Venue: National Cricket Bank Arena, Karachi (Pakistan)
Date: Wednesday, January 11, 2023
Pakistan can clinch the ODI series win over New Zealand here after beating the tourists in their first ODI on Monday in clinical fashion. It was a needed win for Pakistan, given the two-match Test series that preceded these ODIs consisted of two draws, extending their streak of relative futility in the red ball game.
Their white ball unit got off to a winning start for 2023 in impressive fashion in Karachi. After electing to field, they saw New Zealand rack up a score of 255/9 from their 50 overs. Naseem Shah was the pick of the bowlers as he took an impressive five-wicket haul for the cost of 57 runs from his ten overs.
Chasing that target of 256 to win, Pakistan seemed to be in control. They kept the run rate ticking, with Mohammad Rizwan powering the chase. Rizwan finished on an unbeaten 77 from 86 balls as Pakistan passed the New Zealand total, finishing 258/4 with almost two full overs to spare.
It was New Zealand’s first white-ball game in Pakistan in almost 20 years, and they will be hoping their second game of the type on Wednesday will work out better for them.
Rizwan was in fine form in the first ODI, and he is the star that this team will look to rally around once again here. He is 5/1 to be the top Pakistani batsman in the second ODI. Still, with players like Babar Azam – he made 66 from 82 in the first ODI – and opener Fakhar Zaman chipping in with 56 on his return from a knee injury, this is a batting lineup loaded with players that can break out and smash a ton in any given game.
It is sometimes hard to believe that Shah is still just a teenager, with his pace and control belying his age. He was on fire against the Black Caps, and he is in that spot as a kid who doesn’t know that ODI cricket at this level is supposed to be difficult. I expect him to star again here.
The Black Caps are the world’s No. 1 ranked ODI team, and I expect a response from them. Their top order – outside of Devon Conway, who fell for a duck in the first over – struggled in converting good starts with the bat into meaningful totals. Seven of their top eight hit at least 21 runs, but none made it to the half-century mark. Michael Bracewell (43 runs) came closest. Still, a combination of solid spin bowling in the middle overs and a few poor decisions by the batsmen stopped anyone from bedding in and building the New Zealand total.
This should be a fun match with a buoyant Pakistan taking on a New Zealand side that believes they can win the last two matches and the series. A result in either direction wouldn’t shock me, but the slight lean is to Pakistan given the form of their top-order batsmen and the crowd that they will have in their favor.