Former New Zealand cricketers Ian Smith and Brendon McCullum on Wednesday have highlighted the balance issues to the team’s playing eleven after their five-wicket loss to Pakistan in their opening match of Group 2 in the ICC men’s T20 World Cup in Sharjah. Both Smith and McCullum were of the opinion that the balance was a ‘little bit off’.

“The selection process seemed a little bit odd… the balance a little bit off. The Blackcap regrouping process will need to be swift,” said Smith on SENZ Mornings.

Echoing Smith’s view, McCullum said on SENZ Breakfast, “I looked at that team and I just felt the balance of that side was just a little bit off… I’d personally like to see them play another bowler in those conditions. There’s just a couple of areas I wouldn’t mind seeing us tidy up going into the next game.”

Batting first, New Zealand huffed and puffed to 134/8 in 20 overs. In reply, Pakistan cruised to the target with eight balls to spare as finishing touches from the unbeaten pair of Asif Ali (27 off 12 balls) and Shoaib Malik (26 off 20) sealed their second win of the tournament in three days.

Smith was in praise of the balance in Pakistan’s playing eleven. “Pretty cool, very determined, and very thorough. They took us both out with precision.”

McCullum, on the other hand, questioned the decision to open with all-rounder Daryl Mitchell, who bats mainly in the middle-order. “I find it strange for two, three years of preparation, we never once opened the batting with Daryl Mitchell, and then he finds himself opening the batting in foreign conditions in the first game of a World Cup. It would be nice if we could get those answers.”

Ahead of New Zealand’s second match against India on Sunday, McCullum suggested a selection change in the playing eleven. “I would bring Adam Milne in for either Neesham or Mitchell… play five front-line bowlers and just trust your batting if you need to. It doesn’t make a great deal of sense. I just think they could use their resources slightly better than what they did.”

Smith focused on why New Zealand’s match against India is important for Kane Williamson and Co. “India (are) in a similar predicament, (they) loom in a few days, it’s cut-throat and you just have to love it.”

New Zealand will take on India on Sunday at the Dubai International Stadium, in what will be a virtual knockout match for both teams.



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