With the T20 World Cup just a month away, it’s an odd choice to be indulging in 50-over cricket but the New Zealand cricket team’s drought breaking tour of Pakistan does not just serve as a tune up.
The Kiwis will be playing cricket on Pakistani soil after 18 years, and so their cricket board was never going to let this chance go. Had there been more time, they’d have even loved to stage a Test series but England will follow New Zealand to Pakistan soon after.
Pakistan last played ODI cricket in July on their tour of England and were whitewashed 3-0. On home soil, they fared better in the format, defeating South Africa 2-1 back in April. Those were their only two forays in the format.
The Green Shirts have named a strong squad for the series, with almost everyone who was expected to make the cut making the cut.
What happened to New Zealand in Bangladesh is no secret. The same touring party has been retained. It’s a roster that is fresh off being defeated 3-2 in a T20I series in Bangladesh. It’s also a roster that is missing almost their entire cream of talent pool.
Despite this pretty much being New Zealand versus Pakistan, the Black Caps would be hoping to play competitive cricket. Their optimism would stem from the fact that they encountered absolutely shambolic conditions for batting in Bangladesh and still only lost 3-2.
That, and Pakistan’s vulnerability to implode under seemingly easy situations would give them hope.
New Zealand does not have a great ODI record against Pakistan. In fact, when the last time these two met, it was the World Cup 2019 and Pakistan had beaten the Kiwis courtesy a masterful century by Babar Azam.
The classy right-handed batsman could once again prove to be the thorn for New Zealand as he averages an astonishing 84.20 in ODIs on home soil.