Brendon MCCullum will be back to lead New Zealand in the third ODI © AFP
Brendon MCCullum will be back to lead New Zealand in the third ODI © AFP

New Zealand have been the dominant side in this tour against Pakistan and will look to carry that on in the third One-Day International (ODI) at Auckland as well. New Zealand lead the series 1-0 and will be keen to wrap things up with a win in the final match. Pakistan have a golden chance to level the series as the second match at Napier was washed out due to rain. Pakistan had  New Zealand in trouble in the early stages of the first match, but failed to finish the job off as the tail along with Henry Nicholls ensured New Zealand reach a match-winning score. Pramod Ananth lists the key battles for the crucial second ODI. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: New Zealand vs Pakistan 3rd ODI at Auckland

Brendon McCullum vs Mohammad Irfan: McCullum has been on the sidelines for a few weeks now and has seen Kane Williamson lead the New Zealand side since. He will however be back for the final game against Pakistan and look to play his natural game. He will look to take on the opening bowlers right from the beginning. Mohammad Irfan will surely get some extra bounce, as he is over seven feet tall. McCullum in pursuit may go early, if he misjudges the bounce of the ball. But it could also work in his favour as he can afford to play him off the back-foot much easier.

Kane Williamson vs Anwar Ali: Williamson was excellent in the T20 International (T20I) series, opening the innings with Martin Guptill. He looked out of sorts in the first ODI and eventually dragged one back onto his stumps. Pakistan’s best chance of getting rid of Williamson will be when he is new to the crease. Good line and length, just around the off stump might just do the trick, like it did in the first match. Ali was the pick of the bowlers in the first match. He will be entrusted to get rid of New Zealand’s best batsman at the moment.

Corey Anderson vs Imad Wasim: Anderson is a core part of New Zealand’s middle-order and is always on the lookout for runs. Being a left-handed batsman, he would surely like to take on the left-arm spinner Wasim. It will not be a bad idea, if Wasim is introduced as soon as Anderson comes in to bat. Anderson might smack him for a couple of boundaries but may get himself dismissed by going for another one. But if Anderson gets the hang of the bowler, he can be severe all the way through. Pakistan vs New Zealand 2015-16, 3rd ODI at Auckland: Preview

Sarfaraz Ahmed vs Mitchell Santner: Sarfaraz is a delight to watch when on song. He does not like getting bogged down and can be a nightmare for bowlers at times. Santner is slowly developing into a trustworthy all-rounder in the limited-overs side. He proved that in the first match and will look to do the same again and continue his good run. Sarfaraz, like Anderson is an impact player, who can change the course of the match in a few overs. Santner may tempt him to play a rash shot against him, which could lead to Sarfaraz’s downfall. However, Sarfaraz could target Santner, given his inexperience in international cricket.

Trent Boult vs Azhar Ali: Boult has been in top form for some time now and he will be a handful in this match as well. Azhar has the tendency to play a long innings once he gets his eye in, which is something New Zealand must be wary of. Boult will look to dismiss the Pakistan skipper early and have a crack at the team’s middle and lower-order early.

(Pramod Ananth is a reporter at CricketCountry. He has represented Karnataka table tennis under-15, and is a hardcore supporter of Liverpool FC. His Twitter handle is @pramz)