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Mahmood questions New Zealand's ability to win crunch games ahead of Pakistan clash
Pakistan News

Mahmood questions New Zealand's ability to win crunch games ahead of Pakistan clash

Pakistan bowling coach Azhar Mahmood on Tuesday questioned New Zealand's ability to win crunch matches ahead of all-important World Cup clash in Birmingham.

Kane Williamson's side have so far maintained a winning streak at the mega-event with five wins in six games, plus one no result against India.

In contrast, it is a must win game for Pakistan if they are to maintain a realistic chance of reaching the semi-finals after a poor start to their World Cup campaign.

Mahmood, a former all-rounder who represented Pakistan in three World Cups, said New Zealand had a good record at the start of tournaments but often crumbled in high pressure games.

"New Zealand's history is such that they get there winning, winning and then when a crunch situation comes up, in the semi-final, or quarter-final, they don't do that well," Mahmood said on Tuesday.

"It can happen to any team. Everyone has to have a bad day. Hopefully New Zealand have it tomorrow."

New Zealand, who are yet to win a World Cup, have reached the semi-finals six times. They got to the World Cup final in 2015 but lost to Australia at the MCG.

In the current tournament, they have handled pressure situations well, coming out on top against Bangladesh, South Africa and the West Indies in thrilling finishes.

But Pakistan have a maintained a good record against New Zealand, winning six of their eight World Cup encounters.

"If you see the 1992 World Cup and this one, there are a few similarities," said Azhar. "But we're not thinking like that. Australia were in a similar situation in the 1999 World Cup (which they won).

"If they lost any games, they would have been out. We are in that situation now. But for us, every match is a final, that is how we are looking at it. We know that if we perform poorly anywhere, we could be out."

Mahmood praised in-form Mohammad Amir, who has been Pakistan’s stand out pace bowler in the tournament.

"Amir has started pushing his lengths up a little, allowing himself to swing the ball," he said. "That has been key for us. It's very important for us that he gives us early breakthroughs and he has that ability.

"His skills and ability have always been exceptional."