Pakistan and New Zealand are set to lock horns in a five-match T20I series, starting with the first game in Lahore on Friday, 14 April.
During the time when the world of cricket is taken over by Indian Premier League (IPL) fever, the New Zealand trip of Pakistan, which consists of five T20 Internationals and as many ODIs promises some riveting international action.
Pakistan have picked a star named a star-studded T20I squad, boosted by the return of Shaheen Afridi, who will play for the first time since the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Final against England in November 2022.
Though he returned to international cricket after a four-month gap, Shaheen has been busy picking up silverware and breaking records in Pakistan. During the recent PSL, the ace pacer led Lahore Qalandars to the victory, making him the first captain to win the Pakistan Super League twice.
Some of the important players are also back in the Squad like Skipper Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Fakhar Zaman, and Haris Rauf are also back in the squad after missing the Afghanistan T20I series in Charjah. Pakistan will be relieved to see their star T20 I players back in action after they were sorely missed in their 2-1 loss to Afghanistan.
New Zealand faces a significant challenge. They will miss key players, including regular skipper Kane Williamson.
To compete against a fully-rested Pakistan, the Kiwis will lean on the expertise of stand-in captain Latham, Jimmy Neesham, Matt Henry, Daryl Mitchell, and Ish Sodhi. Saqlain Mushtaq, their recently hired assistant coach, may be helpful because he is familiar with the circumstances in Rawalpindi and Lahore.
Pakistan: Babar Azam (c), Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Ihsanullah, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Haris, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Naseem Shah, Saim Ayub, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood and Zaman Khan.
New Zealand: Tom Latham (c), Chad Bowes, Mark Chapman, Dane Cleaver, Matt Henry, Ben Lister, Adam Milne, Cole McConchie, Daryl Mitchell, Jimmy Neesham, Rachin Ravindra, Henry Shipley, Ish Sodhi, Blair Tickner and Will Young.