The Indian Premier League, the T20 WC and workload management has forced the New Zealand selectors to field a side sans some of their key members. There will be no Kane Williamson, or Kyle Jamieson or Trent Boult. The series will also not be part of the ODI Super League as Pakistan Cricket Board couldn’t secure the services of the firm providing Decision Review System setup. All these factors do take some sheen off the value the series holds.
New Zealand, however, will be relieved to be out of Bangladesh. They did end with a 2-3 scoreline in the T20I series but at times looked at sea against the Bangladesh spinners. While spin will once again play a key role in the series, New Zealand won’t have to worry about the extreme nature of the tracks they encountered in Bangladesh. Captain Tom Latham stressed the aim for his side to execute a performance with sustained pressure on the opposition. But a major factor will be how quickly they are able to adapt to the conditions.
Pakistan, on the other hand, haven’t quite set the ODI Super League on fire. Their wins have been against Zimbabwe and South Africa, but they were handed a whitewash by a makeshift England unit in July. Not only that, they also had to endure a disappointing Super Over loss against Zimbabwe at home. The fact that this series doesn’t carry any Super League points, it’s also an opportunity for them to fine tune some of the aspects of their ODI setup. They will be without coaches Mishab ul Haq and Waqar Younis, as both have stepped down from their position.
Pakistan go into the series as favourites given their familiarity with the conditions and the onus is on them to make a statement.
What: Pakistan vs New Zealand, 1st ODI, 17 September 2021, 230pm local time
Where: Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi
What to expect: A humid day with dew expected to play a role in the second half of the contest.
Pakistan: The hosts have already named their 12 for the match. The toss up will be between Usman Qadir and Zahid Mehmood.
Squad: Babar Azam (c), Shadab Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Saud Shakil, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Usman Qadir, Zahid Mahmood.
New Zealand: The visitors were handed a blow with Tom Blundell ruled out of the series because of a quad strain. Finn Allen was talked up in Bangladesh and could make his ODI debut.
Probable XI: Rachin Ravindra, Finn Allen, Will Young, Tom Latham (c&wk), Henry Nicholls, Colin de Grandhomme, Ajaz Patel, Matt Henry, Jacob Duffy/Blair Tickner, Scott Kuggeleijn/Doug Bracewell, Cole McConchie.