New Zealand have been having a fantastic run © Getty Images
New Zealand have been having a fantastic run © Getty Images

New Zealand will lock horns with Pakistan at Mohali in the 23rd match of ICC World T20 2016. It promises to be a cracker of a contest as both teams have superstars of slam bang world of T20 cricket in their ranks. New Zealand have been in red-hot form in this edition of World T20, as they outwitted and outclassed the tournament favourites India and archrivals Australia. The Black Caps putting a spectacular show did not come as a surprise as they have potent bowlers who can spell the doom of the batsmen on spinner friendly turfs in India. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: New Zealand vs Pakistan, ICC World T20 2016, Super 10 Group 2, Macth 23 at Mohali 

Before the start of the tournament, everyone expected the wickets to be a featherbed for the batsmen. But, barring a few games, the pitches have been on the slower side. Most batsmen struggled to crisply time the ball and take on the opposition right from the word go. However, the slow nature of the tracks has produced some high-octane games, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats. On the contrary, the Mohali track offers pace and bounce for the bowlers. And with winter lasting longer this year, there might be a tinge of grass on it. Hence, it will equally benefit the batsmen and bowlers.

Pakistan started their World T20 campaign on a winning note by beating Bangladesh, but failed to maintain winning momentum against the archrivals India. Pakistan have players who can turn the fortune on their day and display a noteworthy performance. However, it boils down to how Pakistan use their resources and select a team combination. Evidently, against India, Pakistan completely lost the trick by dropping a spinner and instead went for an extra pacer in Mohammad Sami. On the other hand, New Zealand made their strategy clear for this T20 extravaganza in India: horses for courses. In the tournament opener against India, they dropped the likes of Trent Boult and Tim Southee and instead drafted three spinners in Nathan McCullum, Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi. The strategy paid off and the Black Caps eventually pulled off an upset, as the spinners conceded only 44 runs and scalped 9 wickets. Also read: Pakistan’s likely XI against New Zealand in ICC T20 World Cup 2016, Group 2 Match 23 at Mohali

In New Zealand’s second encounter against Australia, they kept the mighty Aussies guessing about the bowling combination. Instead of going for an extra spinner, they opted for Mitchell McClenaghan. Not only does McClenaghan easily clock 145 kmph, he also has a better slower ball in his bowling arsenal than the other bowlers.

While Kane Williamson has big hitters in his team, Shahid Afridi has fiercest pacers. Thus, the battle between New Zealand’s batsmen and Pakistan’s pace battery will be a mouth-watering one.

Matin Guptill forms a devastating opening combination with captain Williamson. Guptill has not been at his annihilating best but a big score is due from him. Before coming into the World Cup, Williamson scored 369 runs in 8 matches and emerged triumphant in 6 contests. Moreover, New Zealand has destructive middle-order batsmen in Colin Munro, Corey Anderson and Grant Elliot. Nonetheless, against the likes of Mohammed Aamer, Mohammad Irfan and Wahab Riaz, it will be an uphill climb for the Black Caps batsmen to fire on all cylinders. Also read: New Zealand vs Pakistan, T20 World Cup 2016: Guptill vs Aamer and other key battles

Pakistan openers will try to provide a good start in the batting Powerplay and help lay the foundation for the middle-order batsmen. Afridi’s 19-ball 49 against Bangladesh was a proof that there’s some gas left in the tank. New Zealand bowlers will be aware of Boom Boom’s ability to go great guns in the middle overs and will try to contain the onslaught.

New Zealand will go into this match as the favourites, but writing off Pakistan in an ICC event would be unfair. If Pakistan manages to bog down New Zealand, it will add more drama to this World T20 spectacle.

Squads:

Pakistan: Shahid Afridi (c), Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Mohammad Hafeez, Umar Akmal (wk), Ahmed Shehzad, Sharjeel Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Imad Wasim, Anwar Ali, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Aamer, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Sami, Khalid Latif.

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (c), Corey Anderson, Trent Boult, Grant Elliott, Martin Guptill, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, Henry Nicholls, Luke Ronchi (wk), Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor.

TIME: 19.30 IST | 14.00 GMT

(Kaustubh S. Mayekar, a reporter at CricketCountry, played cricket at U-16 level. Like his idol Rahul Dravid, he often shadow-practises cricket shots. His Twitter handle is @TheCricKnight.)