Pakistan cricket has rejuvenated in the last couple of years.
Post 2015, Pakistan has invested in youngsters and focused on bringing cricket back home. With the likes of Babar Azam and Shaheen Shah Afridi, this Pakistan T20I team is a force to reckon with in the near future.
Can they triumph against New Zealand in their own backyard?
Read till the end to check out our predictions. Let us know who you think will win in the COMMENTS below!
When and Where?
Here are the dates and the venue for the Pakistan Vs New Zealand T20I series.
Pakistan: Young Talent Highlight Azam-less Batting Line-Up
- Mohammad Hafeez made his debut in April 2003, two months before before the birth of T20 cricket. 18 years on, he is still fit and has been a revelation in the shortest format. Can he keep going?
- Babar Azam is out with a broken thumb. Azam, the current #2 T20I ranked batsman, has scored 23% of Pakistan’s runs since his debut.
- Azam’s injury paves the way for youngsters like the next-big-thing Haider Ali, Abdullah Shafique, and Khusdil Shah to showcase their talent.
New Zealand: Explosive But Inexperienced
- Williamson is on paternity leave but is expected to come back by the 2nd T20I. Another key selection is that Ross Taylor has been dropped. You heard it right—dropped, not rested.
- Glenn Phillips and Devon Conway cemented their places with marvelous performances against the West Indies. Another young talent from Hong Kong, Mark Chapman, has got a few chances but now needs to follow suit and deliver.
- Expect Guptill-Seifert to provide New Zealand with explosive starts and Neesham to finish it off in style.
Pakistan: Pakistan Cricket and the Flurry of Bowling Options
- Shaheen Shah Afridi is the complete package – can bowl up front and at the death. Need 4 wickets in 4 balls? Can do that as well. One of the bests in this format right now.
- Wahab Riaz is the experienced man in this line up. Has been in and out of the side in the last few years. With Haris Rauf’s rapid rise and Naseem/Musa waiting, Riaz would want to nail his T20I World Cup spot.
- Stand-in captain Shadab Khan & Imad Wasim will occupy key spinning-allrounder roles. Much rest on their shoulders for the balance of the XI.
New Zealand: Rotation Policy Central to New Zealand’s Depth
- Southee-Boult-Jamieson should return for the last 2 T20Is as the first choice bowling line-up.
- The first T20I gives the likes of Doug Bracewell, Kuggeleijn, Tickner, and possible debutant Duffy a chance to seal the reserve seamer spot.
- Santner will captain in the absence of Williamson. In short New Zealand grounds and flat pitches, Santner needs to keep economy rate low otherwise another Pollard-like carnage is on the cards.
Key Matchups To Watch Out For
- Haris Rauf Vs NZ’s middle order: As Rauf has shown in the Big Bash, he is a quite a skiddy customer and a smart, thinking cricketer. The Kiwis ought to be wary.
- Battle of the Keepers: Both Seifert and Rizwan are safe behind the wickets and have had a decent past year. The winner of this mini-battle will have an impact on the series.
The Broken Dream
Pakistan: Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Amir
- Shoaib Malik, the first Asian to 10000 T20 runs, has already won the National T20 Cup and the Lanka Premier League finals. Yet, with veterans Hafeez and Iftikhar Ahmed, is it curtains on a two-decade long career?
- Mohammad Amir’s recent international retirement/break statement has shaken the social media world. The journey of a promising young kid whose rise took the world by surprise, followed by a spot-fixing exile, a remarkable comeback, and finally dropped from the side—end of the dream for Amir?
What are your thoughts on his sudden retirement? COMMENT BELOW!
New Zealand: Ross Taylor
- Devon Conway’s consistent performances has cast Ross Taylor aside, the only person to play 100+ games across formats. Always a decent performer, Taylor never lived up to his RCB 2009 heights in T20Is. Can he make it to the next World Cup?
Verdict: 2-1 Pakistan
This young Pakistan cricket team is definitely favorites to reach the top 4 at the 2021 T20I World Cup in India. Without Babar Azam, the team will not be at its maximum potential, but neither is New Zealand without Williamson and with its fast bowling-rotation policy.
Both teams have fluid, explosive line ups with multiple bowling options. In this series, I am most excited for the youngsters on show!
Expect Haider Ali and Glenn Phillips to provide some entertainment.
Let us know your thoughts on Pakistan cricket, New Zealand cricket, and the eventual scoreline. COMMENT BELOW AND LET US KNOW!
My Starting XI:
These are my starting XI for the first Test (assuming everyone is available in terms of COVID and injuries).
Abdullah Shafique, Haider Ali, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Rizwan (WK), Khusdil Shah, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan*, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Afridi, Wahab Riaz
New Zealand (1st):
Martin Guptill, Tim Seifert (WK), Glenn Phillips, Devon Conway, Mark Chapman, Mitchell Santner*, James Neesham, Ish Sodhi, Jacob Duffy, Blair Tickner, Doug Bracewell
New Zealand (2nd-3rd):
Guptill, Seifert (WK), Williamson*, Phillips, Conway, Daryl Mitchell, Neesham, Jamieson, Southee, Boult, Sodhi
These are the other options in the squads. Note, India has 2 squads – for the first 2 and last T20I respectively
Pakistan: Faheem Ashraf, Hussain Talat, Mohammad Hasnain, Muhammad Musa, Sarfaraz Ahmed (WK), Usman Qadir
New Zealand: Todd Astle, Scott Kuggeleijn