In the first warm-up match of the ICC World Cup 2023, fans were left puzzled by the absence of Pakistan's star bowlers, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Shadab Khan, from the bowling lineup against New Zealand. Despite setting a target of 346 runs, the Green Shirts lost the game by five wickets.
Both Shaheen and Shadab refrained from bowling in this match, raising concerns among cricket experts and fans regarding the team's decision not to utilize their key bowling assets as they prepared for the upcoming mega cricket tournament.
Subsequently, Geo News discovered the reason behind Shaheen and Shadab's non-involvement in the bowling department as New Zealand chased down the 300-plus target in the 44th over. According to inside sources, this was a strategic move by the team management, aiming to provide more match practice opportunities to other bowlers in the squad.
Sources revealed that the management had devised a plan to experiment with different strategies and give all 15 squad members a chance to showcase their skills in the two warm-up matches, with the goal of better acclimatizing to the conditions ahead of the tournament.
In the match report, it was noted that New Zealand successfully chased down Pakistan's formidable total of 345, securing a five-wicket victory in their opening warm-up encounter held at Hyderabad's Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium. Despite an early wicket loss, New Zealand's Ravindra Jadeja (97) and Kane Williamson (54) built a crucial 137-run partnership, ultimately achieving the target with 6.2 overs to spare.
Mohammed Rizwan's century (103) and Babar Azam's 80 had propelled Pakistan to a competitive score, but New Zealand's batsmen handled the target with ease, even in the absence of pace spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi.
Kane Williamson, who had returned after a six-month injury lay-off and played solely as a batsman in this match, showcased his prowess with an impressive 50-ball stay before retiring out. He expressed satisfaction with his knee's condition, considering the minor icing required after his innings as part of the recovery process.
Ravindra Jadeja's aggressive batting dominated Pakistan's bowlers, amassing 16 fours and one six before being denied a century by Agha Salman. Pakistan spinner Usama Mir managed to pick up two wickets in his two overs, but Daryl Mitchell's 59-run contribution kept New Zealand on track.
Left-handed batsmen Mark Chapman (unbeaten 65) and James Neesham (33) established a partnership of 68 runs, sealing New Zealand's victory in 43.4 overs.
Earlier in the game, Babar Azam struck eight fours and two sixes before falling to Mitchell Santner, while Mohammed Rizwan reached his century in a crucial partnership with Saud Shakeel, who scored 75.
Reflecting on his century, Rizwan expressed pride and satisfaction, emphasizing the value of a hundred in any playing conditions.
Notably, this match, along with other warm-up games, was played in an empty stadium due to a Hindu festival and security concerns in the southern Indian city.
Visit urdumedia.pk for more news.