ABU DHABI - Sarfraz-led Pakistan cricket team look to resurrect their shambolic One-Day form as they will be desperately looking for to win the second ODI against New Zealand to be played today (Friday) at Abu Dhabi.

Earlier on Wednesday, when Pakistan lost their first ODI, it was Pakistan’s 12th straight loss to New Zealand in One-Day Internationals, but what should be more of a concern for the Pakistani think-tank is the fact that this was their ninth loss this year in 16 matches. What aggravates the situation further is that their seven wins are distributed in the matches against Zimbabwe, Hong Kong and Afghanistan.

Ahead of the all-important 2019 World Cup, this is the one-day series in which Pakistan are expected to get their combinations and rhythm in order before they venture to South Africa and England next year with a brief stay in the UAE - for a five-ODI series against Australia - in the middle.

The tale of Pakistan’s loss against New Zealand in the first one-dayer was quite similar to what it is usually. A top-order collapse (this time due to a Trent Boult hat-trick) followed by futile attempts to stage a recovery that eventually translated into a defeat. Pakistan came close to having a shot at the target but the dearth of specialist batsmen available at the back-end of the innings saw them go 0-1 down in the series. Before and after the Wednesday encounter, captain Sarfraz Ahmed had spoken at length about the necessity of top order stepping up and providing a platform for the middle order. He reiterated, after their 47-run defeat, that he will have a chat with the top three.

Despite their victory, New Zealand had their share of troubles. On a pitch that was not conducive for pace bowling, especially under the sun, the visitors lost both openers in the first powerplay. The duo would have been back within a span of a few balls had Babar Azam not dropped a sitter at first slip. A brilliant recovery was undone in a Shadab Khan’s over as the leggie removed three batsmen in four balls.

With the World Cup fast approaching, every one-dayer is an opportunity for Sarfraz to chalk out a success strategy. So, Friday presents another such opportunity to him to get his side out of the rut. For Kane Williamson, it will be about avenging the T20I series whitewash by sealing the series and eyeing a clean-sweep. But, ahead of the second one-dayer, Williamson will seek some fine-tuning in the batting department, so he forces his 50-over brilliance over Pakistan with more authority.

Pakistan made two changes to their side from their last Asia Cup contest to bring back the duo of Mohammad Hafeez and Imad Wasim that missed out then.

Despite their failure in the first outing of the series, they are expected to field the same line-up. However, Fakhar Zaman’s run in ODIs is a source of concern for the management and fans alike and with the Pakistan captain now openly talking about the necessity of the top order clicking, he will be under scanner. He had a niggle in his knee due to which he missed the first T20I against New Zealand. Sarfraz rejected the reports of him still carrying the injury.

George Worker has been in the UAE for some time now playing against Pakistan ‘A’ for New Zealand ‘A’.


PAKISTAN: Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (c&wk), Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Junaid Khan.

NEW ZEALAND: Tom Latham, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Colin de Grandhomme, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult.