New Zealand is on the shores of Pakistan for the first time since 2003 and even though they are without their main names, the fact that a New Zealand team is traveling to Pakistan is a big deal.
The series was originally scheduled to be a part of the ODI Super League but will now be played as a standalone bilateral series since there is no DRS. They will return to play Super League matches next year with two Tests, part of World Test Championship.
New Zealand is without at least 8 of its first-choice ODI players and Pakistan has also picked some young players in their squad.
Green Shirts are also with new coaching staff as Misbah-ul-Haq and Waqar Younis quit last week after the announcement of T20 World Cup squad. Saqlain Mushtaq is serving as head coach and Abdul Razzaq is his deputy for New Zealand series.
Pakistan has already named a 12 for the first ODI and it is highly likely that they are planning to go with two leg-spinners Shadab Khan, Usman Qadir with Zahid Mehmood likely to miss out. Iftikhar Ahmed and Saud Shakeel will be the other spin-bowling options.
Pakistan’s batting at the top has been strongest, considering their forms and records. Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, skipper Babar Azam and wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan form a compatible top-order with Saud and Iftikhar at No.5 and 6 respectively.
The bowling attack for Pakistan is absolutely fantastic and there is no question about it. Hasan Ali and Shaheen Afridi are the two bowlers that will likely pose the biggest threat in throughout the series.
Pakistan name 12 for first #PAKvNZ ODI
— Pakistan Cricket (@TheRealPCB) September 15, 2021
Pakistan (possible): Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam (capt), Saud Shakil, Mohammad Rizwan, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Usman Qadir, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Shah Afridi
New Zealand are coming with a similar squad that lost a T20 series to Bangladesh for the first time in its history last week.
That was a series played on some terrible pitches that were very spin-friendly and made batting almost impossible. Rawalpindi is not going to be like that and will give New Zealand a better chance to be able to compete.
New Zealand is missing a lot of its batsmen but it still has some quality in its squad. Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, and Finn Allen will heavily take charge of tourists’ batting.
While, Will Young, Rachin Ravindra, Cole McConchie and Colin de Grnadhomme all add depth to the team and on Pindi surface, we cannot count out New Zealand too early.
New Zealand’s bowling lineup is quite impressive. Matt Henry, Scott Kuggeleijn, Ajaz Patel, De Grandhomme and Cole McConchie should all have a chance of making it into the playing eleven. There is some genuine pace, experience, and a pretty decent spin bowling lineup to call upon.
New Zealand (possible): Rachin Ravindra, Finn Allen, Will Young, Tom Latham (c&wk), Henry Nicholls, Colin de Grandhomme, Cole McConchie, Scott Kuggeleijn, Ajaz Patel, Jacob Duffy, Matt Henry
What captains has to say
Babar Azam: “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.
“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.”
Tom Latham: “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.
“We have 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 19 and 21 September at the same venue after which the two sides will travel to Lahore for five T20Is between 25 September to 3 October.