A maiden Test series win in the Caribbean; 220 million Pakistanis living the dream of beating archenemies India in the ICC Champions Trophy final at the home of cricket; being number one in T20Is and a nine-ODI winning streak is what Pakistan will march into 2018 with. The New Year has brought new challenges for the men in green, the first of which is their limited overs tour to New Zealand, which includes five ODIs and three T20Is.
Pakistan Team upon arrival at Auckland airport
Pakistan last toured New Zealand for a bilateral series in January 2016 when they played three ODIs and as many T20Is which turned out to be a ruinous one as the visitors could manage only one win on the tour. New Zealand in general has not been a kind host to Pakistan where they have won only one of their last six bilateral ODI series. Of the 11 series Pakistan has played in New Zealand including the one-match series in 1973 when Pakistan and New Zealand both made their ODI debut, they have been victorious in only two (in 1994 and in 2011) and have drawn one (1995).
Overall, Pakistan has won just 15 out of 44 ODIs versus New Zealand in New Zealand. Their win/loss ratio versus New Zealand in New Zealand is 0.576 – third worst for them at any opposition’s home after Australia (0.459) and South Africa (0.555).
They have fared well against the same opposition at venues outside New Zealand where they have won 38 of the 54 matches with a contrasting win/loss ratio of 2.375 – third highest for them against any opposition after Zimbabwe (31.00) and Bangladesh (17.00).
Rameez Raja leads the batting chart in ODIs played between Pakistan and New Zealand in NZ. The right-arm opening batsman has scored 711 runs at an impressive average of 50.78 with the help of two hundreds and five half-centuries. He is followed by Inzamam-ul-Haq who has scored 553 runs in 23 matches. The former New Zealand captain Martin Crowe is at third with 533 runs in 13 matches scored at an average of 59.
Rameez Raja tops the batting chart in ODIs played between Pakistan and New Zealand in NZ
Off the players in the current squad, Mohammad Hafeez leads the batting charts for Pakistan with 370 runs in 10 matches in New Zealand while Ross Taylor has made 268 runs in 7 innings against Pakistan in his home country.
Wasim Akram has made the most of helpful seaming conditions in the land of Kiwis with 37 wickets in 20 matches including the best figures of 5/19 at Wellington. The fast-bowler turned commentator Danny Morrison is at number two with 34 wickets in 17 matches at a strike rate of 26.50. Waqar Younis has taken 29 wickets in 17 one-days in New Zealand with his best figures being 6/30, which allowed Pakistan to tie the match in 1994.
Of the current squads, Trent Boult and Tim Southee both have 9 wickets against Pakistan in ODIs in New Zealand but Boult has played lesser matches (4) than Southee (6). Surprisingly, Shoaib Malik leads the table for Pakistan with seven wickets in six games.
Pakistan’s highest team score in New Zealand is 303 all out which is their lowest at any opposition’s home (minimum qualification: 5 matches).
Shoaib Malik’s batting average (9.00 in 6 matches) in New Zealand is the lowest for him in any country. No other batsman has scored more ducks than him in Pak-NZ ODIs in New Zealand.
Babar Azam has played only two ODIs in New Zealand, scoring fifties in both matches.
Azhar Ali needs 167 runs to complete 2000 ODI runs. If he gets them in the next two ODIs, he will be the joint 2nd fastest Pakistani after Zaheer Abbas to achieve this milestone.
Interestingly, the last five ODI series between Pakistan and New Zealand in New Zealand have all started in January of that year.