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Sunday June 16, 2024

Pakistan face fearless NZ in Pindi today

By Abdul Mohi Shah
April 18, 2024
New Zealand´s Mark Chapman (C) plays a shot during the fourth T20 international cricket match between Pakistan and New Zealand at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi, on April 20, 2023. — AFP
New Zealand´s Mark Chapman (C) plays a shot during the fourth T20 international cricket match between Pakistan and New Zealand at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi, on April 20, 2023. — AFP

RAWALPINDI: Pakistan cricketers will begin their preparations for the T20 World Cup today (Thursday) here at Pindi Stadium against a new-look New Zealand team eager to prove their point in absence of some of the key players.

With twelve matches at their disposal before start of the mega event, Pakistan camp looks keen to try different combinations in a quest to form a competitive unit. Up against them during the five-match T20 International series will be a team capable of delivering and taking the fight to the host country even in absence of the best combination.

Pakistan enjoy an overall edge over New Zealand in T20 cricket, winning 21 against 17 losses. This will be the third five-match series between the two sides inside a 12-month period. Last year, Pakistan and New Zealand drew the series at two-all in Pakistan, while New Zealand clinched the series 4-1 earlier this year in their backyard which resulted in change of captaincy as Babar Azam was reinstated on the position in place of Shaheen Shah Afridi as Pakistan white-ball skipper.

The five-match series will be a real test of captaincy for Babar who earlier in his first stint happened to play defensive cricket and at the same time looked far less imaginative, lacking the capability of taking quick decisions.

“I always try to learn from mistakes and make the best use of the given opportunity. Being a captain every effort will be made to use my resources to near perfection to achieve best results for the country,” Babar said.

Pakistan captain in a media talk a day ahead of the start of the series said that coming twelve T20 matches will be of utmost importance for the Pakistan team. “We are making efforts to give a competitive look to the team. All 12 matches coming up ahead of the World Cup will be treated as an opportunity to achieve that goal.”

Pakistan have named uncapped Abrar Ahmed, Mohammad Irfan Khan and Usman Khan in the 17-member squad. The series will have a special significance for Usman who sacrificed chances of UAE nationality for the sake of Pakistan cricket and getting a green cap.

The five-match series will also see the return of Mohammad Amir and Imad Wasim who will be seen in national colours along with fast bowler Naseem Shah. The tourists on the other hand have got some explosive stuff in their ranks with the likes of Mark Chapman, Tim Robinson, Ben Sears, Tim Seifert and Michael Bracewell having the power to change the shape of the game at any time.

“I’m proud to be leading the team on this tour. We’ll look to play entertaining cricket as a side and take the game forward. Most of the players in our squad have played a lot of T20 Cricket growing up and they are very well equipped with the knowledge of this format. Pakistan are a formidable side at home and we’ll look to put challenges in their backyard,” New Zealand captain Bracewell said ahead of the start of the series.

Squads: Pakistan: Babar Azam (captain), Abrar Ahmed, Azam Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Abbas Afridi, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Amir, Muhammad Irfan Khan, Naseem Shah, Saim Ayub, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Usama Mir, Usman Khan and Zaman Khan.

New Zealand: Michael Bracewell (captain), Tom Blundell, Mark Chapman, Josh Clarkson, Jacob Duffy, Dean Foxcroft, Ben Lister, Cole McConchie, Jimmy Neesham, Will O’Rourke, Tim Robinson, Ben Sears, Tim Seifert, Ish Sodhi and Zak Foulkes.