Red-hot Black Caps opener Munro looms large for Pakistan

New Zealand’s Black Caps, unbeaten in eight games now, is ready for their second one-day international against Pakistan at Saxton Oval in Nelson on Tuesday with Colin Munro on their side– “Munners” has been in red hot form for the Black Caps during the 2017-18 summer.

“He’s definitely one of those guys you want in your side. He’s getting us off to flyers each time,” Trent Boult the Black Caps bowler said of his in-form team-mate Munro.

The 30-year-old batsman has become a lethal key strike weapon at the top of the order, having notched scores of 58, 104, 66, 53 and 21 in his past five matches.

And long may that form continue, Boult said, as the Black Caps goes head-to-head with the Green Caps.

“Munners is slipping in nicely. There’s a lot of aggressiveness at the top of the order there and it’s nice to be seeing the ball sailing like it is,” he said.

“I think he’s really enjoying his cricket, he’s in red-hot form and again hopefully there’s a few more quick runs in the tank from him.”

Pakistan bowling coach Azhar Mahmood is very familiar with Munro and Martin Guptill, having played alongside New Zealand’s opening pair during a stint with Auckland Aces in 2011.

He said it was crucial for his bowlers to strike early – tipping former team-mate Munro as the key wicket.

“I played with him at Auckland, and Guptill as well, and I know their plus and weaknesses. He’s been playing well and hitting the ball well and he’s having a purple patch. But he will give you a chance to get him out. [Tuesday] is a new day so hopefully we can get him out,” Mahmood said.

“Our strength is we keep taking wickets with the new ball and last game we didn’t and the practice game we didn’t. That’s our strength and that’s why we can beat any side. [Tuesday] is a new game and hopefully we can get him early.”

Mahmood said Pakistan’s less experienced players struggled in the foreign and extremely windy conditions at the Basin Reserve in Wellington on Saturday as they slumped to a 61-run loss via the Duckworth-Lewis method.

He appeared a tad frustrated at the fact the game was decided by the Duckworth-Lewis method, adamant they were still a good chance to win with Fakhar Zaman at the crease on 82 not out.

But as he said, Tuesday is a new day and the loss certainly hasn’t knocked any confidence out of the current Champions Trophy holders – Mahmood again declaring Pakistan can beat anyone.

He is just hoping for more of the sunshine Pakistan were greeted to at training on Monday, although he may be disappointed to learn the forecast is for afternoon rain on Tuesday.

“We’ve got the best bowling lineup and that’s what we showed in the last nine games. No other team has made more than 240 against us – this was the first time in the last 10 games. So we’ve got skillful bowlers who can do a job for us and this is a different ball game, and the sun is out and it’s less colder.

“In Wellington I think it was a 20 degree drop down from when we landed to when we were at the ground. It was freezing and I feel like we were playing in England.”

AT A GLANCE

What: Second one-day international
Where and when: Saxton Oval, Nelson, 11am Tuesday
TAB: New Zealand $1.40, Pakistan $2.80

New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson (captain), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Todd Astle, Tim Southee, Matt Henry/Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult.

Pakistan (likely): Azhar Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir, Rumman Raees.

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