RAWALPINDI: Pakistan are all set to host New Zealand for a three-match one-day international series after a gap of 18 years, as the two teams finally square off today at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium.
The tourists will play their first match on Pakistani soil since 2003, with today’s matchset to be the fourth encounter between the two sides at the Rawalpindi stadium, with Pakistan having a 3-0 edge over the Black Caps.
The two sides last faced off in 2019 during the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup in Birmingham where Babar Azam guided his side to a six-wicket victory with a heroic century.
Pakistan, currently ranked sixth in the ICC ODI rankings, have a chance to climb one spot up, provided they beat the visitors 3-0 in the ODI series. The two teams will retain their pre-series rankings in case Pakistan fail to achieve the desired result.
New Zealand, the top-ranked ODI team in the ICC Rankings and the 2019 World Cup finalists, will take to the stadium today with the confidence of a 3-0 sweep against Bangladesh in March. The Kiwis will be looking to continue their winning streak.
The Men in Green also have confidence boosters as they defeated Zimbabwe 2-1 in the format during their last clash in Rawalpindi in October-November 2020. Also, Pakistan routed South Africa 2-1 in the last ODI series played between the two countries.
Pakistan captain Babar Azam expressed his excitement over the series taking place between the two sides in Pakistan after over a decade-and-a-half.
“Finally, the day has arrived and our entire camp is very excited to play New Zealand at home. We have practiced hard for this series and I am sure we will take full advantage of our home conditions,” said Babar in his pre-series media conference held online.
“We have a balanced squad and I remain optimistic about our chances in what promises to be an exciting series. I am sure fans at the stadium and millions watching us on screens will enjoy these matches.”
New Zealand captain Tom Latham reciprocated Babar Azam’s excitement.
“We know it is special for Pakistan to have cricket in their country and we are excited to be here. Pakistan are a quality side and they have some talented white-ball players in their line-up,” said Tom.
“We have the desired fire-power in our ranks to win this series and I am sure our batters and bowlers will rise to the occasion and make this historic series memorable for us.”
The second and third matches will be played on September 19 and 21 respectively at the same venue after which the two sides will travel to Lahore for five T20Is between September 25 to October 3.
The series will not count towards the ICC World Cup Super League, which will decide the qualification for the 2023 50-over World Cup, because Pakistan was unable to make arrangements for the Decision Review System (DRS) for the highly-anticipated series.
Pakistan (from): Babar Azam (captain), Abdullah Shafique, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imam-ul-Haq, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Haris, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim Junior, Saud Shakeel, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shahnawaz Dahani, Usman Qadir, Zahid Mahmood
New Zealand (from): Tom Latham (captain), Finn Allen, Hamish Bennett, Tom Blundell, Doug Bracewell, Colin de Grandhomme, Jacob Duffy, Matt Henry, Scott Kuggeleijn, Cole McConchie, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Rachin Ravindra, Blair Tickner, Will Young