Pakistan and New Zealand ready to for their tune-up

Pakistan and New Zealand start their five-match one-day series in Dubai on Monday, with the focus on building confidence and momentum for next year’s World Cup, which is just two months away.
Pakistani captain Misbah-ul-Haq, above, and his New Zealand Brendon McCullum are looking at the five one-day internationals as their final opportunity to iron out problems prior to the World Cup. Aamir Qureshi / AFP
Pakistani captain Misbah-ul-Haq, above, and his New Zealand Brendon McCullum are looking at the five one-day internationals as their final opportunity to iron out problems prior to the World Cup. Aamir Qureshi / AFP

DUBAI // Pakistan and New Zealand start their five-match one-day series in Dubai on Monday, with the focus on building confidence and momentum for next year’s World Cup, which is just two months away.

It promises to be a keenly fought contest after they ended honours even in the earlier three-Test series and two-match Twenty20.

Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul Haq said his team can build confidence and momentum.

“This is one of our last chances before the World Cup, to look how we will go into the World Cup, so the focus is on that,” Misbah said.

“Pitches are different here [from Australia and New Zealand where the World Cup is being hosted], but I still think the confidence and the momentum of this series will help us and it will not matter even if we are playing on different pitches here.”

Pakistan have recalled experienced batsman Younis Khan after dropping him from the three-match ODI series against Australia, which they lost 3-0 in October in the UAE.

Misbah believes Younis will provide valuable experience.

“His experience will help us,” said Misbah, who hinted that Pakistan will use a specialist opening pair instead of wicket-keeper batsman Sarfraz Ahmed at the top of the order.

“We want to go in with genuine openers and want the first four batsmen settled before going to the World Cup,” he said.

Misbah praised New Zealand as a dangerous side.

“New Zealand have adaptability, and they have all-rounders and good spinners who can win matches for their team,” Misbah said.

Pakistan have been missing ace spinner Saeed Ajmal, suspended for an illegal bowling action two months ago, and their problems were further compounded when all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez’s action was also reported last month.

A report on Hafeez’s action is expected next week.

“We were jolted after Ajmal’s suspension and if Hafeez is not there, then our balance will be affected,” Misbah said.

New Zealand’s stand-in captain Kane Williamson – Brendon McCullum left after the Tests to prepare for the home series against Sri Lanka – said Pakistan remain a dangerous side, even without Ajmal.

“We know it’s a big challenge because Pakistan play well here, they have depth, and even without Ajmal, whichever side they put out is strong,” Williamson said.

New Zealand play two Tests and seven ODIs against Sri Lanka starting later this month.

“There is so much cricket before the World Cup and this series is the focus, but we are conscious of the big event,” Williamson said.

All-rounder Corey Anderson will return after missing the second T20 as a precautionary measure after being hit by a bouncer on Thursday, but opener Martin Guptill is still being monitored for a tight hamstring.

Follow us on twitter at @SprtNationalUAE

Published: December 6, 2014 04:00 AM

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