Pakistan will lock horns with New Zealand on Wednesday at Edgbaston in Birmingham. Pakistan defeated South Africa by 49 runs on Sunday at Lord's to keep their hopes of advancing to the next stage alive in the ongoing World Cup 2019. Pakistan are currently sitting at seventh position in the points table with five points in six games. Pakistan have three games left in their World Cup campaign and they need to win every match, if they want to stay among the top four in the points table. On the other hand, New Zealand continued their unbeaten run after winning a close encounter against West Indies and they are on top of the points table.
For Pakistan, Mohammad Amir has been the lone star with the ball. Amir has taken 15 wickets and is the leading wicket taker in the tournament so far. Their batting line-up has let them down on multiple occasion which is why Pakistan are struggling to make it to the top four. In their last match against South Africa, Haris Sohail, who was dropped after the opening game, made a strong comeback with a 59-ball 89 to help Pakistan post a challenging total of 308 for 7.
While the batting and bowling units delivered against South Africa, fielding is an area of concern for Pakistan and Sarfaraz too admitted that the team will need to pull up its socks.
"We have to work harder on fielding. Again we dropped so many catches (against South Africa), some straightforward and some half-chances. All three matches now are very crucial and we have to sort it out," Sarfaraz told the reporters ahead of their clash against New Zealand.
New Zealand, on the other hand, have been invincible so far and currently hold the top position in the points table. The Black Caps, led by skipper Kane Williamson, have been on a roll ever since they stream-rolled Sri Lanka in their opening match.
But no team is unbeatable and New Zealand looked vulnerable against South Africa and the West Indies but it was skipper Williamson's twin hundreds which helped them seal the wins. Williamson, who also anchored the side against Afghanistan, is their highest scorer in the tournament so far.
Ross Taylor too has been among the runs but openers Colin Munro and Martin Guptill are yet to click.
Their bowling unit, which includes Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson, too has been in good form, while New Zealand also have two destructive all-rounders in Jimmy Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme in their ranks.
The only aspect that they seem to be struggling is delivering their quota of overs within the stipulated time and Williamson could be handed a suspension if the over-rate is slow in one more match.
Pakistan: Sarfaraz Ahmed (captain/wk), Fakhar Zaman, Imam ul Haq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Hasan Ali, Shahdab Khan, Mohammed Hafeez, Mohammed Hasnain, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Wahab Riaz, Mohammed Aamir, Shoaib Malik, Imad Wasim, Asif Ali.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (capt), Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham (wk), Colin Munro, Jimmy Neesham, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Tom Blundell.
Match starts 3pm IST
(With PTI inputs)