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June 26, 2019

Pakistan look to draw first blood against Black Caps

Sports

June 26, 2019

BIRMINGHAM: Twenty seven years ago, Pakistan were facing a must-win situation as they travelled to Christchurch to play a crucial World Cup game.

Their opponents were New Zealand, who till that point in time, were enjoying an unbeaten record. Pakistan, who seemed to have little hopes against the Black Caps, caught the hosts napping and won by seven wickets to revive their World Cup campaign. They went on to win the title.

It’s a similar situation for Pakistan, who have to beat table-toppers New Zealand here at Edgbaston on Wednesday to stay alive in the World Cup. And they are hoping that just like in 1992, New Zealand will have a bad day.

“Every team has to have a bad day and hopefully New Zealand will have a bad day tomorrow,” said Azhar Mahmood, Pakistan’s bowling coach.

His comments were made in lighter vein but Pakistan would be hoping that New Zealand expose some chinks in their armour as the two teams, with completely contrasting track records in the World Cup, clash at Edgbaston.

Pakistan have just won two of their six matches (one was washed out) while New Zealand are yet to lose any of their six games.

Azhar, who was an accomplished all-rounder for Pakistan, is fully aware that New Zealand would be one of Pakistan’s biggest tests in the World Cup. With skipper Kane Williamson in to form, the Black Caps are yet to lose any game in this contest.

“They are a very strong side and have won all their games,” he told a press conference ahead of the game. “They’ve got match-winners in their side, so it’s going to be crucial for us to take wickets with the new ball.

“And when we bat, we need to get runs up front. “If we can get our discipline right like last game - in batting, bowling and fielding - then we can beat any side.

“If we do the basics right, it’s just about us, not them.” Azhar was unwilling to dicuss Pakistan’s possible line-up for the game, saying that the eleven will be decided after examining the pitch and weather conditions.

“We played in this ground before in Champions Trophy. So we know the condition really well. We’ll find out tomorrow morning how the pitch looks like.” Pakistan are expected to retain the same side that defeated South Africa by 49 runs at Lord’s on Sunday.

Azhar said that Pakistan’s morale, which had dipped in the wake of an embarrassing 89-run loss against India, has received a boost. But he was quick to add that the team feels hurt whenever the media and fans become abusive.

After the win against South Africa, Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur said albeit in a lighter vein that he was thinking about committing suicide following the loss against India.

Azhar echoed his remarks. “There is so much media pressure. The expectations are so high. Then people just have negative things to say. That’s why you o think about suicide and all. You think about consuming poison because what’s the point of it all.”

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