Karachi: Although Blackcaps are in top form and is a dangerous side to deal with but Pakistan also has players who could wreak havoc to any world-class team provided they put united effort and play their best, feels former chief selector Salahuddin Ahmed Sallu.
“New Zealand is great in form and they have the ability to thrash any side in the world especially at their own backyard. Pakistan will face a tough opposition from New Zealand at its backyard and would miss UAE conditions,” Sallu, a former Test cricketer told.
Sallu added that New Zealand’s Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Ross Taylor and skipper Brendon McCullum are all in great form. “Their bowlers Matt Henry and Mitchell McClenaghan have also been devastating for visiting Sri Lankans. Their fielding complements their bowling well.”
“But Pakistan also has seasoned players, who could be dangerous on their day. Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez and wicket-keeper batsman Sarfraz Ahmed could bat brilliantly against any opposition. Azhar Ali provides stability to Pakistan’s otherwise unpredictable batting just as Younis Khan used to give. So I feel a concerted effort from Team Pakistan could lift them above their hosts next month in T20 and ODI series,” he explained.
He further said that he has high expectations from Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Irfan. “I feel the duo could prove lethal in the windy New Zealand conditions. However, they will need support from fielding to perform against a tough opposition,” he added.
He said that Ahmed Shahzad and Umar Akmal also have great potential and they should also start playing up to their potential.
“I think the team could do well in spite of some setbacks it has been facing. Yasir Shah has been suspended and Hafeez will also not be able to bowl. There is no Saeed Ajmal so our spin department would be a bit low in spirit and experience. However, Azhar Ali may prove handy in Yasir’s absence,” Sallu said.
Meanwhile, Sallu also praised PCB chief Shaharyar Khan for not accepting Azhar Ali’s resignation. “Azhar Ali is a good captain and he can bat and sometimes also bowl well. So I think it is a good decision that his resignation has been rejected.”
He further said that the time for experimentations has finished and now the team management should go with full strength in order to establish synergy and combinations in the team ahead of the World T20 Championship.
“Now it is time we start playing with full strength in order to generate momentum before the World T20 Championship begins in March,” he added.
Pakistan will be playing three T20Is and as many ODIs from January 15 when it will tour New Zealand.