Pakistan and New Zealand players congratulate each other after their 2nd Test match which ended in a draw at the National Stadium in Karachi on Friday. | Photo Credit: ANI
Pakistan and New Zealand face off in the first of three one-day internationals in Karachi Monday, with an eye on this year’s World Cup in India.
The previous Test series between the two teams failed to produce a result in either of the two Tests —both in Karachi — ending a miserable season for both teams.
Pakistan failed to win any of their three Test series at home, losing four out of eight Tests including their first 3–0 whitewash at the hands of England.
New Zealand have also failed to win any of their last six Tests. But Babar Azam is confident that his team will do well in the limited overs.
“Pakistan have proven themselves to be a good white-ball team and this series gives us the perfect launch to begin our World Cup preparations,” said Azam of the World Cup in October/November.
Azam’s team won eight of the nine one-day internationals last year, including a 2-1 series win against a formidable Australia at home.
“We are a well-rounded side with solid batters and bowlers who have proven themselves time and again so I am confident that we will do well in the upcoming series,” said Azam.
Pakistan will miss pace spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi who is recovering from a knee injury sustained in November last year, while spinning allrounder Shadab Khan is also out with his finger fracture recently.
Opener Fakhar Zaman will strengthen the batting, as will Haris Sohail — who has been recalled after two years.
New Zealand, runners-up in the last World Cup in 2019, won ten of their 16 ODIs last year and have a strong unit led by Kane Williamson. They have been dominant against Pakistan, winning 12 of the last 15 ODIs between the two teams.
Williamson also focused on the World Cup, relinquishing the Test captaincy.
“I felt that continuing to captain white-ball formats would be preferable with two World Cups in the next two years,” he said last month, referring to the 2023 ODI and 2024 T20 World Cups .
The batting achievement recognized the strength of Pakistan.
“Pakistan is a very strong side and naturally knows these conditions,” Williamson said.
“For us as a team it’s about focusing on the cricket we want to play and trying to put out some improved performances.”
New Zealand pacer Matt Henry was also out of the ODIs with a stomach ache on the final day of the drawn second Test.
They are missing the pace trio of Trent Boult, Kyle Jamieson and Adam Milne — for various reasons. The remaining matches are on Wednesday and Friday, also in Karachi.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (captain), Tom Latham, Finn Allen, Michael Bracewell, Devon Conway, Lockie Ferguson, Daryl Mitchell, Henry Nicholls, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Henry Shipley, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Blair Tickner
Pakistan: Babar Azam (captain), Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Kamran Ghulam, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim, Naseem Shah, Agha Salman, Shahnawaz Dahani, Shan Masood, Tayyab Tahir, Usama Mir
Umpires: Aleem Dar (PAK) and Asif Yaqoob (PAK)
TV umpire: Ahsan Raza (PAK)
Match referee: David Boon (AUS)