At the Pindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi on Thursday, the first of the five ODI matches between Pakistan and New Zealand will take place. On the field, the team will be led by regular captain Babar Azam, together with all-rounder Shadab Khan and wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan.
Shaheen Shah Afridi, a pacer who missing a lot of time because of injury, will also likely play in an ODI match for the first time since June 2022.
Before the World Cup, which will be held in India in October-November, the series gives both teams the chance to assess each other’s benefits and drawbacks. The World Cup will be coming up, thus these five matches are really important, according to Azam.
“We will use the eight ODIs and the Asia Cup (to prepare) and we have eight ODIs to do that.”
The Black Caps surprised the hosts by matching the previous five-match Twenty20 series 2-2 despite being without eight players, including captain Kane Williamson, due to the ongoing Indian Premier League or injuries.
Under temporary captain Tom Latham, New Zealand skillfully adjusted to the situation, coming back from 2-0 down to win the third and fifth games, with the fourth game being postponed due to weather.
Azam has led Pakistan to five wins in seven ODI series. His two defeats came in January of this year, one to New Zealand and the other to England. However, New Zealand is proud of its recent dominance over Pakistan. New Zealand has won five and drawn one of the previous six ODI series against each other. Pakistan was their last opponent in a series they lost at home in 2011.
The remaining matches of the current series will be played on Saturday in Rawalpindi and then on May 3, 5, and 7 in Karachi.
Pakistan’s possible lineup for the Opening ODI
Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam (captain), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Haris Sohail, Agha Salman, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz/Usama Mir, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Afridi, and Naseem Shah are set to play for Pakistan in the first ODI.