Pakistan will take on New Zealand, after being whitewashed in the ODI series by 5-0, in the first T20 international of the three-match series at Westpac Stadium, Wellington.
Pakistan batsmen have struggled miserably in the 50-over format with their highest score of 262 runs. On the other hand, the Kiwi batsmen have completely dominated visitors’ bowling attack.
Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, and Shadab Khan have been among runs, whereas, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Azhar Ali have struggled horrendously.
Pakistan will have a couple of new faces in the T20 internationals as Ahmed Shehzad will join his countrymen, while Umar Amin replaced Shoaib Malik, who suffered a delayed concussion during the fourth game, in the last ODI of the series.
The shorter format of the game is likely to suit Pakistan’s aggressive batsmen like Fakhar Zaman, Faheem Ashraf and probably Ahmed Shehzad as well. The pacer Rumman Raees’ bowling style is also much suited for the fast-paced format of the game.
On the other hand, New Zealand have got the firepower in batting that can ruin any bowling attack in the likes of Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson and Colin de Grandhomme.
The Blackcaps are always a competent bowling attack in their backyard. However, they are ready to shake up their arsenal a bit with Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson expected to rest in the first T20i. Pakistan have already been vulnerable against their pacers especially with the new ball, so an early batting collapse of visitors’ is always on the cards.
Though the top-ranked T20i team New Zealand is the favourite to rule the second-ranked T20i team Pakistan, but writing off Pakistan is always risky.
The inclusion of couple of new players in the side and change of format may put a new life in Pakistan team.
Mickey Arthur has instructed his batsmen to stand up and perform and stop using the excuse of alien playing conditions.
“They’ve got the ability and without wanting to look for excuses, they need to get better in these conditions,” Arthur said. “Our guys need to step up, that’s the bottom line. Our top order haven’t done a job for us in the series and that’s a pity.”
The two players to watch out from Pakistan and New Zealand will be Shadab Khan and Martin Guptill respectively. Shadab Khan has been phenomenal with both ball and bat in the series. On the other hand, Martin Guptill won the Man of the Series award for a consistent run with the bat.
Pakistan have won four of the five T20 internationals, whereas, New Zealand have won three out of the last five. But, Pakistan have been disastrous against the Kiwis in the last couple of years.
The match will kick off tomorrow at 8 AM (PST).