New Zealand v Pakistan, March 21 2016, Punjab Cricket Association Stadium
The top two sides in Group Two go head to head for a crucial two points on Tuesday. New Zealand can all but book their place in the semi-finals with a win, but a loss would see their opponents Pakistan leapfrog them into top spot.
Without the explosive batting of Brendan McCullum the Black Caps have relied more on their bowling attack in the opening two games, defending totals of under 150 in both. Their spin duo of Ish Sodhi (4) and Mitchell Santner (6) have combined for ten wickets, while Mitchell McClenaghan’s exceptional death bowling was the vital component of their narrow victory over Australia.
Pakistan were well beaten by champions India in their last outing, but a comfortable win over Bangladesh means they’re still very much in the hunt. There’s no Virat Kohli on the other side this time, and their talented bowling line up will feel they’ve a very good chance against this opposition. They also won the most recent encounter between the two teams.
Mohammad Amir: Amir has been very impressive in his first major tournament since making his comeback. The 23 year old fast bowler has taken 3 wickets in seven overs, with an extremely impressive economy rate of under 5.5. Expect him to continue his form against a side whose batsmen have struggled to score freely in their opening two games.
Shoaib Afridi: As expected, Afridi has found these pitches suited to his bowling. His economy rate through two games is a reasonable 6.5. He also has flashed some form with the bat, and is capable of taking the game away from opponents on his day.
Mitchell Santner: Santner is currently the leading wicket-taker among bowlers who didn’t play in the preliminary group stage, having picked up six wickets in the opening two games. Aside from one over where he was hit for consecutive sixes against Australia, he’s also been hard to hit to the boundary. With pitches continuing to favour spinners, he looks set for a great tournament.
Ish Sodhi: New Zealand’s other spinner has proven virtually impossible for opponents to hit off the square. His eight overs have gone for just 32 runs and a single boundary so far, while picking up four wickets in total.