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New Zealand, Kane Williamson

New Zealand’s turn to face Pakistan juggernaut

Pak v NZ, 1st T20I, preview

Having comprehensively outclassed Australia in a three-match Twenty20 International series, Pakistan will hope to repeat the feat against New Zealand, starting with the first of three games on Wednesday, 31 October.

Pakistan v New Zealand

1st T20I
Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi
Wednesday, 31 October, 08:00pm local time, 04:00pm GMT

Pakistan named an unchanged side for the series, and that’s no surprise – they can seemingly do no wrong in the format. Sarfraz Ahmed has captained them to 26 wins in 30 T20I matches, his side are top of the MRF Tyres ICC Men's T20I Team Rankings, and in Babar Azam, they have the world’s top-ranked T20I batsman.

Pakistan are on a roll in T20Is
Pakistan are on a roll in T20Is

All of which Australia were made aware of over the last week. Pakistan were head and shoulders above them in their three matches, winning 3-0 after keeping them to scores below 140 each time – in the first match, Australia were bundled for a paltry 89.

Their bowlers know these conditions inside out. Especially Shadab Khan, who should be a handful for New Zealand – the leg-spinner claimed six wickets against Australia, including a 3/19.

Imad Wasim is usually a fine support act as well, and given that newbie paceman Shaheen Shah Afridi has adapted as well as he has – he claimed four wickets in two matches – New Zealand, the No.5-ranked side in the T20I rankings, will have their work cut out.

But they do have things to work with. As good as Pakistan’s bowlers were, Aaron Finch, the Australia captain, repeatedly stressed that his side got the better of the opposition batsmen – Pakistan weren’t allowed to set more than 155 in the three matches.

New Zealand will be without Trent Boult (paternity leave) and Mitchell Santner (knee injury), but even in their absence, they will look to exploit Pakistan’s perceived batting weakness, with Ish Sodhi, the leg-spinner, being joined by the uncapped Ajaz Patel, the left-arm spinner, along with the pacemen – Tim Southee, Adam Milne and Corey Anderson, who impressed in New Zealand A’s clashes against Pakistan A.

With the bat, New Zealand will be without the big presence of Martin Guptill – he has a calf injury – but Glenn Phillips, the wicket-keeper batsman, has been added to the side, and will hope to use his big-hitting abilities to good affect, alongside Colin Munro, who said he was relishing being back with New Zealand again

New Zealand will be without Martin Guptill, Trent Boult and Mitchell Santner
New Zealand will be without Martin Guptill, Trent Boult and Mitchell Santner

Despite that, it'll be a tough series for New Zealand, especially given they haven’t played an international match since April in England. But Pakistan’s have their chinks. This should be a fine series. 

Key players

Babar Azam (Pakistan): The 24-year-old registered scores of 68*, 45 and 50 in the three T20Is against Australia to claim the top-spot in the T20I batsmen’s rankings. Given Pakistan’s middle-order concerns, it’s imperative that he continues to post such scores. The New Zealand management might have a special prize for whoever gets his scalp early.

Ish Sodhi (New Zealand): Leg-spinners are all the rage these days, and in Sodhi, New Zealand have a very good one. He’ll have greater responsibility in the attack, in the absence of Santner and Boult, and if the visitors are to trouble the Pakistan batsmen, he will have to lead the charge. He returned a fine 2/11 against UAE recently, and will be hoping for more of that.


Abu Dhabi will have a few clouds on Wednesday, but nothing that threatens rain. If anything, they should make for better conditions for play.

Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (c, wk), Shaheen Shah Afridi, Asif Ali, Hassan Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Babar Azam, Sahibzada Farhan, Mohammad Hafeez, Shadab Khan, Shoaib Malik, Waqas Maqsood, Usman Khan Shinwari, Hussain Talat, Imad Wasim, Fakhar Zaman

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (c), Corey Anderson, Mark Chapman, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, Glenn Phillips (wk), Seth Rance, Tim Seifert, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor

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