Pakistan - New Zealand World T20 Preview: Can Afridi's men get back on track?

New Zealand can almost assure qualification for the semi-finals with a victory, whilst Pakistan must win to keep their hopes alive.

Pakistan - New Zealand World T20 Preview: Can Afridi's men get back on track?
New Zealand have impressed in their two tournament wins so far (image via: the guardian)

All eyes will be on the PCA Stadium in Mohali on Tuesday as high flying New Zealand take on Pakistan in the only match of the day at the 2016 World T20.

New Zealand hold all the cards

Dark horses New Zealand have got off to a flyer in this year's competition, beating hosts India and rivals Australia in their opening two matches. On paper, the Kiwis' strengths seemed to lay in the batting department but it has been their bowlers, particularly the spinners, who have taken the headlines.

Bowling out India for a minimal 79 and restricting Australia to 134-9, the New Zealand bowling attack has proved it can take the wickets of anyone whilst also keeping the economy rate down.

Mitchell Santner has been a star in the Black Caps opening wins (image via: stuff.co.nz)
Mitchell Santner has been a star in the Black Caps opening two victories (image via: stuff.co.nz)

Whilst New Zealand are in pole position to qualify for the semi-finals, Pakistan's hopes lie on a knife-edge after a win and a defeat in their opening two matches. They easily beat Bangladesh by 55 runs in their opening match where they smashed 201, before comfortably being beaten by rivals India on Saturday. With Australia still to play, Pakistan will be desperate for victory on Tuesday.

Pakistan have the edge over New Zealand in Twenty20 internationals, with three wins from their previous four meeting, yet the Black Caps will take confidence from their one-day international series victory earlier in the year. After Pakistan edged the first match by 16 runs, New Zealand showed their resilience with emphatic ten wicket and 95-run victories in the following two matches to win the series.

Bowling attacks could be the key to success

If Pakistan are to be victorious they will have to see off Mitchell Santner. The left-armed spinner has taken six wickets in his opening two matches, going for just 41 runs in the process at an average of just over five. Santner has been ably backed up by Ish Sodhi who has the second lowest economy rate at 4 per over, meaning every run will count for Pakistan.

Pakistan's top performers have been opening batsman Ahmed Shehzad and fast bowler Mohammad Amir. The former has 77 runs to his name, including 52 in the opening match against Bangladesh in Kolkata.

Meanwhile, the controversial Amir has looked extremely dangerous with the ball, taking three wickets in two games at just 5.42 per over, following up his spellbinding form at the recent Asia Cup.

New Zealand only edged past Australia by eight runs and this encounter should be another tight contest. Pakistan will be hoping for a reaction after being defeated by their great rivals and will have their mental strength severely tested against a side ranked four places above them in the World Twenty20 rankings.