Pakistan vs New Zealand 1st & 2nd T20Is: Preview and Prediction
Two back-to-back classics are set to take place in Lahore where the home team would take on New Zealand in the T20I series first. There won’t be any Test matches in the series as it will be a complete limited-overs series including 5 T20Is followed by 5 ODIs.
Babar Azam & Co. must be looking to forget their 1-2 loss against Afghanistan recently in UAE. Though the skipper was rested in that series, the confidence of the other players shattered after a shocking defeat.
On the other hand, New Zealand is coming with a victory over Sri Lanka in their recent T20I series. They defeated the visitors 2-1 to win the trophy, thanks to some commendable show by Tim Seifert who won the Player of the Series award.
Now, both Pakistan and New Zealand are set to face each other with the first two T20Is to take place on Friday and Saturday. Let us take a look at the preview and prediction of the matches:
What have they done so far?
Undoubtedly, Pakistan would be having a home advantage in the series, but Kiwi players are now quite comfortable with the subcontinent pitches. They have played enough cricket in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh that they won’t face difficulties while playing in Pakistan.
The pitches will support spinners for sure and this is why they have Rachin Ravindra and Ish Sodhi in the team. The Men in Black recently defeated Sri Lanka and this victory would help them to tackle Pakistan as well because of a similar kind of display from all the Asian cricketers.
Babar Azam & Co., on the other hand, would really want to make the best use of this limited-overs series keeping in mind the ODI World Cup and next year’s T20 World Cup. The recent loss against Afghanistan was a shocker to everyone but it happens sometimes and a team like Pakistan knows how to recover.
Talking about the first two T20Is which are on consecutive days, the captains can make some tough calls related to the rotation policies and a feeling of fatigue in between. It is never easy to play back-to-back matches so bench strength would have to be ready for their chances.
Of course, the performance in the first match would matter a lot keeping in mind the momentum of the player but one can expect several changes in both squads in the second T20I, which is in Lahore too.
Pakistan has enjoyed magnificent success over the years against New Zealand in T20Is as they have won 18 times out of 29 matches whereas the Kiwis earned a victory on just 11 occasions. Without any question, Pakistan is a top-quality T20 side, but their performance dipped a lot in the format in the past couple of years. Keeping in mind this factor, New Zealand can take a huge advantage and create history in Pakistan with a victory this time.
Shaheen Afridi: Lethal fast bowler, Shaheen Afridi is a massive boost for his country whenever he is playing. He recently tasted success in PSL once again by making his team Lahore Qalandars victorious. He is a remarkable bowler not only in the beginning but also at death.
Afridi can swing the ball away from right-handers and at the same time, his incoming yorkers are sometimes just unplayable. The 23-year old seamer would like to maintain his rhythm in the series against New Zealand and with many right-handers in their squad, it is not going to be easy for the Blackcaps to survive.
Ish Sodhi: One can never ignore spinners while playing in the sub-continent and Ish Sodhi is one such example this time. He is an excellent bowler in these conditions and knows what to bowl on these pitches.
Sodhi has been splendid for his side in this format, moreover, he would like to win more matches with his good leg spin. He is one of the most underrated spinners in the world right now but his bowling can be handy in crucial situations for New Zealand.
New Zealand: Chad Bowes, Tom Latham ©, Will Young, Daryl Mitchell, Mark Chapman, James Neesham, Rachin Ravindra, Adam Milne, Matt Henry, Ish Sodhi, Henry Shipley
Pakistan: Babar Azam ©, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Rizwan, Shan Masood, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Haris Rauf, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Afridi, Zaman Khan
The big advantage for Pakistan here is that they are playing in front of their home support and with Shaheen Afridi at his very best these days, Pakistan is a side to reckon with right now. New Zealand, on the other hand, looks good on paper but can struggle in the first couple of matches while adjusting to the conditions.