Both sides will be led by captains new to the role of Mitchell Santner and Shadab Khan
Pakistan has not played much cricket in the month since their departure for New Zealand, but that does not mean that this trip was not among the headlines. After three weeks of gruesome quarantine involving Covid ‘s positive test, isolation outbreak, threats from New Zealand that Pakistan was on its final warning and threats against Pakistan returning home anyway – yes the series going off the ground at all is a relief. Nice thing, because in these rather stellar times, there are very few tables that can be discarded – just ask for South African Cricket. More importantly, cricket promises to be really, really good.
Of course, New Zealand will miss Kane Williamson in New Zealand’s first T20I, still absent after the birth of his second child. Of course, there are a number of high-profile absences for the guests, with Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Kyle Jamieson and Lockie Ferguson all injured in the presence of a less-experienced 13-man squad. That could allow Pakistan to look at the game as an opportunity to start the trip well, although hot-fired Glenn Phillips and the experienced hands of Martin Guptill and James Neesham make sure the batting line is not completely wet. behind the ears.
Mitchell Santner will be hoping for his first full international as captain after a third T20I against the West Indies ruined by rain. But it is the other spinner in the squad, Ish Sodhi, whose contribution could have a bigger impact. The new guests are after a 2-0 T20I series win against a team in the West Indies who appear to be on paper packing a bigger threat than Pakistan, and Sodhi was crucial to the second win. . Cognitively altering his flight and speed, he surrendered just 26 in his four pitches in a game where Southee, Santner and Neesham each went at over 12, with New Zealand themselves ruling 238. One such spell in a T20I with a high game score could be around once more.
All of these compounded absences may not make up for the extent to which Pakistan will miss Babar Azam, who was ruled out of the three T20Is in a major blow to the goal side that already funded. Their squad has its own quota of young players, but that doesn’t necessarily apply to inexperience in their case. Shaheen Afridi is a top bowler worldwide despite his tender years, while 22-year-old captain Shadab Khan has entered an interesting draft.
Mohammad Hasnain and Wahab Riaz should enjoy the pace and kick Eden Park’s offers. Mohammad Hafeez seems to have recreated himself more times than you might be careful to track, and his form could be a crucial barometer for the Pakistan show in the series. And in Haider Ali and Khushdil Shah, Pakistan has the kind of unstoppable power batsmen that both elite sides must have to compete at the top in the modern game.
New Zealand WWLT (L Super Over) T (L Super Over) (last five completed games, most recent first)
After comments from Haider Ali that he was asked to put something back in his offensive instincts, you can feel confident that he is the closest thing to his contemporaries in the New Zealand side, Glenn Phillips, of course they do not. After the West Indies put down the fastest T20 per cent with a New Zealand battlefield (46 balls), Phillips spoke of the joy of “achieving the freedom of my achievements. ”. That’s the philosophy that allowed Phillips to emerge as perhaps the deadliest striker in New Zealand’s batting line. After pursuing those wins with a hundred of the first grade for the A side, Phillips lacks confidence.
By Babar Azam sent out, Shadab Khan finds itself suddenly under the microscope as it stands. After shaking off a niggle for himself, it will be appropriate to lead the international side for the first time in his career. That may put a strain on a trip where there’s already plenty of it, but the 22-year-old has led Islamabad United for a year or two now, and he has that experience of being drawing on. That’s not to say that his sting with the ball will be crucial, but perhaps the more interesting question revolves around what position he might come out to bat after enjoying a bat. power position in the top four with Islamabad this season. It was a huge success, and if he returns to reproduce that role on Friday, look out for an exciting tactical battle.
With most of New Zealand’s absence in the bowling division, it should be interesting to see how they appear on that front. There could be a debate for 26-year-old skipper Otago Jacob Duffy, with Scott Kuggeleijn and Blair Tickner starring.
New Zealand (possible): 1 Martin Guptill 2 Tim Seifert 3 Devon Conway 4 Glenn Phillips 5 Mark Chapman 6 James Neesham 7 Mitchell Santner (capt) 8 Todd Astle 9 Ish Sodhi 10 Scott Kuggeleijn 11 Blair Tickner / Jacob Duffy
The biggest decision in Pakistan is the way they replace Azam at the top of the order. Hafeez may be inspired, but with young opener Abdullah Shafique in the squad, Haider and Shafique could make a new pair at the top.
Pakistan (possible):: 1 Haider Ali 2 Abdullah Shafique 3Shadab Khan (capt) 4 Mohammad Hafeez 5 Iftikhar Ahmed / Faheem Ashraf 6 Khushdil Shah 7 Mohammad Rizwan 8 Imad Wasim 9 Wahab Riaz 10 Haris Rauf 11 Shaheen Afridi
Park and conditions
Eden Park has one of the shortest boundaries in world cricket, as well as one of the flattest surfaces for T20 cricket. Check out a running festival, without access to water playing spoilsport.
Stats and trivia
- Pakistan has won the two most recent appearances these sides have played at Eden Park, with the same win in New Zealand coming 10 years ago in 2010.
- Hafeez 41 needs another run to overtake Shoaib Malik as the top runner for Pakistan in T20Is.
- Santner and Sodhi have all played T20Is (47) and taken the same number of wickets (54).
Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ Danny61000