Returning stars tipped to help Pakistan find best form against New Zealand

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Emerging Pakistan quick Zaman Khan is confident the return of a host of key senior players will ensure his side finds their best form during the upcoming white-ball series against New Zealand.

Skipper Babar Azam and important trio Mohammad Rizwan, Fakhar Zaman and Haris Rauf have all returned to the national setup and will feature against the Kiwis after they were rested during Pakistan's recent T20I series loss to Afghanistan, while star pacer Shaheen Afridi is also set to make his international comeback in the 10 white-ball fixtures.

Zaman - who made his international debut during the Afghanistan series - believes Pakistan will be a much stronger side because of the return of key personnel and is expecting an improved performance against New Zealand.

"Against Afghanistan the conditions were a bit different and the players were new. In the New Zealand series we will have the home advantage as well as our senior players," Zaman told reporters ahead of the first T20I in Lahore on Saturday.

"If you have the likes of Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan in the team, it boosts the confidence of all the other players and winning matches becomes considerably easy."

Zaman managed just two wickets in the three matches he featured in against Afghanistan, but the 21-year-old showed enough to retain his place in Pakistan's 16-player squad for the T20 portion of New Zealand's visit to Asia.

Whether that proves to be enough for Zaman to win a place in Pakistan's XI during the series remains to be seen, but the right-armer is just happy to be in the mix alongside a host of frontline bowlers.

"Every bowler is different; some are good with the new ball and some are good at the death," he noted.

"It is for the management to decide where they bring me into use, but whenever I get the chance I’ll try my best to win matches for Pakistan."

Zaman Khan limbers up ahead of a practice session // Pakistan Cricket Board
Zaman Khan limbers up ahead of a practice session // Pakistan Cricket Board

Zaman caught the eye during the most recent edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL), with the pacer collecting a total of 15 wickets for the Lahore Qalandars throughout the tournament to finish as the seventh highest wicket-taker at the event.

His efforts helped Lahore to a second consecutive PSL title and the youngster is thankful for the opportunities he received during the tournament.

"Before playing for Lahore Qalandars, life was difficult. But after that, things really improved for me," Zaman said.

"(Lahore teammates) Shaheen Bhai (Afridi) and Haris Bhai (Rauf) supported me a lot, doing net practice with them, playing matches with them have helped me learn a lot.

"We won two finals together and hopefully in the future as well I would like to keep learning."

Video T20 World Cup 08 Nov 22
Babar Azam at the nets ahead of Pakistan semi-final | T20WC 2022
Pakistan skipper Babar Azam participated in an optional net session ahead of Pakistan's semi-final against New Zealand in Sydney.

Pakistan T20I squad: Babar Azam (c), Shadab Khan (vc), 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

Pakistan ODI squad: Babar Azam (c), Shadab Khan (vc), Abdullah Shafique, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Haris Sohail, Ihsanullah, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Naseem Shah, Salman Ali Agha, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood and Usama Mir. Reserves: Abbas Afridi, Abrar Ahmed and Tayyab Tahir


14 Apr - 1st T20I, Lahore
15 Apr – 2nd T20I, Lahore
17 Apr – 3rd T20I, Lahore
20 Apr – 4th T20I, Rawalpindi
24 Apr – 5th T20I, Rawalpindi
27 Apr – 1st ODI, Rawalpindi
29 Apr – 2nd ODI, Rawalpindi
3 May – 3rd ODI, Karachi
5 May – 4th ODI, Karachi
7 May – 5th ODI, Karachi


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