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ICC World Cup: New Zealand to face Pakistan at M. Chinnaswami Stadium in Bengaluru

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In ICC World Cup, Two matches are scheduled to be held on 4th Nov 2023. In the first match, New Zealand will meet Pakistan at M. Chinnaswami Stadium, Bengaluru at 1030 this morning.

A five-minute violent burst of rain around the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru was enough to terminate New Zealand’s afternoon training session prematurely on Friday. The sudden arrival of rain sent the Kiwis and the net bowlers scampering for cover as the landscape turned from bright and sunny to wet and gloomy in under 60 seconds, and the ground-staff swiftly sprang into action. The forecast remains bleak for Saturday (November 4), when New Zealand take on Pakistan in a potential/virtual knockout clash to stay afloat in the intense race for the three remaining spots in the 2023 World Cup.

Until about a fortnight ago, New Zealand would have walked into the contest as clear favourites. They started ominously with four wins upfront, even occupying the top spot in the standings while at it. But three back-to-back defeats to India, Australia and South Africa has put them on the periphery of the qualification bracket and nothing short of two wins in as many remaining games will totally uncomplicate their path to the knockouts. Pakistan are in a more precarious position, needing both points and favours already. Placed fifth with fourth defeats on the trot, a morale-boosting win against Bangladesh revived their chances which were further boosted the next night when South Africa inflicted a crushing defeat on the Kiwis. A win and two points is all both would be focussed on, for now, albeit Mickey Arthur did admit to keeping over-by-over NRR scenarios handy in his pocket.

New Zealand’s campaign derailed with a spate of injuries to key players – starting with Kane Williamson’s broken thumb in the very game he made his international comeback after ACL recovery. Their bowling camp is severely wounded, and the latest to join the injury bench is Matt Henry, who has now been ruled out with a right hamstring grade two tear and replaced by Kyle Jamieson. Fortunately for them, though, the trio of Lockie Ferguson (Achilles), Jimmy Neesham (bruised wrist) and their regular captain all proactively participated in the 100 minutes of practice the weather allowed them ahead of what could be a decisive clash.

In a do-or-die scenario, it was business as usual for Pakistan in their three hours of nets. “The one thing that amazes me, and it’s amazed me so much with the Pakistan players, is generally how calm they are,” Arthur said ahead of the game. “It’s like, I’m a cat on a hot tin roof, the players are just really calm. They kind of take it in their stride. And that’s the feeling I got before the Bangladesh game. And it’s certainly the feeling I’m getting right now. So, yeah, we’re in a decent place.”

While their bowling unit may be closer to getting that perfect outing, the lack of consistency in the batting department remains an area of concern. Fakhar Zaman has proved his fitness to reclaim the opening spot, at the cost of Imam-ul-Haq, and justified his inclusion with a brisk 81 in the NRR-boosting win against Bangladesh but the indifferent form of some of the middle-order batters continues to hurt Pakistan. Both Iftikhar Ahmed and Saud Shakeel haven’t exactly set the tournament alight while skipper Babar Azam’s three fifties have only just papered over the cracks. Even against the battered Kiwis, anything less than a perfect allround show – especially at a ground as unforgiving to bowlers as the Chinnaswamy – can end their World Cup rollercoaster.

Squads:

Pakistan Squad: Abdullah Shafique, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam(c), Mohammad Rizwan(w), Iftikhar Ahmed, Saud Shakeel, Agha Salman, Shaheen Afridi, Usama Mir, Mohammad Wasim Jr, Haris Rauf, Shadab Khan, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Nawaz, Hasan Ali

New Zealand Squad: Devon Conway, Will Young, Rachin Ravindra, Daryl Mitchell, Tom Latham(w/c), Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, James Neesham, Trent Boult, Kyle Jamieson, Ish Sodhi, Mark Chapman, Lockie Ferguson

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