Pakistan set to face New Zealand in first T20I match today

Babar Azam acknowledges challenge posed by Black Caps, says series will help Pakistan prepare for 2024 T20I World Cup

Sports Desk
New Zealand skipper Michael Bracewell (left) and Pakistans captain Babar Azam shake hands with the series trophy pictured in the background. — Screengrab/YouTube/Pakistan Cricket
New Zealand skipper Michael Bracewell (left) and Pakistan's captain Babar Azam shake hands with the series trophy pictured in the background. — Screengrab/YouTube/Pakistan Cricket
  • Babar stresses series' importance ahead of 2024 T20I World Cup.
  • He acknowledges Black Caps will "challenge" them during series.
  • Match to commence at 7:30 pm at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium. 

Pakistan are set to face New Zealand in the first T20I match, part of the five-match home series, at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium today.

Led by newly-appointed skipper Babar Azam, who was recently reinstated to the top post after resigning as the team's skipper in November last year, the Green Shirts will take on Michael Bracewell's Black Caps who will aim to make their mark in the absence of some of the key players.

This is the third five-match series between the two sides inside a 12-month period as last year, Pakistan and New Zealand drew the four series in Pakistan by winning two matches each, while the Black Caps clinched the series 4-1 earlier this year in their backyard.

With both sides aiming to utilise the opportunity to boost preparations and fine-tune their team combinations ahead of the 2024 T20I World Cup slated for June, the Men in Green hold an edge over the visitors in the shortest format of the game with 21 wins and 17 losses against the Black Caps.

Furthermore, the series will likely see pacer Mohammad Amir and all-rounder Imad Wasim making their comeback into the national side after taking back their retirement from the international cricket.

Meanwhile, series will also likely see Usman Khan and Muhammad Irfan Khan making their debut for Pakistan owing to their impressive performances in the recently concluded ninth edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL 9).

Expressing his views on the series, Babar said: "This five-match T20I series holds a lot of importance for us as we look forward to preparing for the all-important mega-event."

However, the star batter acknowledged that New Zealand will challenge the national side at different points in the series, serving as a fine workout for the Pakistan side

Meanwhile, Bracewell, who is leading the visitors in the five-match series, has said that they would look to play entertaining cricket as a side and take the game forward.

"Most of the players in our squad have played a lot of T20 Cricket growing up and they are very well equipped with the knowledge of this format. Pakistan are a formidable side at home and we’ll look to put challenges in their backyard," he said.

The match is set to commence in the evening around 7:30pm with the toss scheduled at 7pm.

However, it is pertinent to know that today's match, along with the future ones, might be affected due to rain as the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) has predicted rains in Rawalpindi starting today till April 21.

Match fixtures

18 April – 1st T20I, Rawalpindi

20 April – 2nd T20I, Rawalpindi

21 April – 3rd T20I, Rawalpindi

25 April – 4th T20I, Lahore

27 April – 5th T20I, Lahore

Squads for T20 2024

Pakistan: Babar Azam (c), Abrar Ahmed, Azam Khan (wk), Fakhar Zaman, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Abbas Afridi, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Mohammad Amir, Muhammad Irfan Khan, Naseem Shah, Saim Ayub, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Usama Mir, Usman Khan and Zaman Khan

New Zealand: Michael Bracewell (c), Tom Blundell, Mark Chapman, Josh Clarkson, Jacob Duffy, Dean Foxcroft, Ben Lister, Cole McConchie, Jimmy Neesham, Will O’Rourke, Tim Robinson, Ben Sears, Tim Seifert (wk), Ish Sodhi and Zak Foulkes.