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Babar returns as Pakistan captain for New Zealand series, Shaheen leads pace battery

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LAHORE: Status quo will resume when Pakistan host New Zealand in five Twenty20 Internationals and as many one-dayers with Babar Azam set to return as the national side’s captain for the tour starting April 14.

Babar was among the senior players rested for what turned out to be Pakistan’s 2-1 loss in the three-match T20I series against Afghanistan under Shadab Khan’s captaincy last month.

For the New Zealand series, however, Shadab returns to his original position as the side’s vice-captain while mainstays Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Rizwan and Haris Rauf have also been named in both the T20I and One-day International squads , which were announced on Tuesday

Most importantly, though, Pakistan will receive a massive boost with pace spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi’s return to the national roster for both formats, with the 22-year-old having proved his fitness during the HBL Pakistan Super League.

Shaheen’s struggles with a knee injury, that he picked up during Pakistan’s Test tour to Sri Lanka in July last year, had kept him out of last year’s T20 Asia Cup, Pakistan’s home T20 series against England and saw him walk out of the T20 World Cup final against the English side. He also missed Pakistan five-match ODI series against the BlackCaps on the first leg of their tour in January.

Along with Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf and Mohammad Wasim Jr, the Shaheen-led Pakistan pace battery will also include Ihasanullah, who has been named in both the T20 and ODI squads for the New Zealand series after impressive performances in the PSL and against Afghanistan.

Ihsanullah, however, is the only player from Pakistan’s young T20 squad that played against Afghanistan to have made it to the ODI squad. Opener Saim Ayub, veteran all-rounder Imad Wasim and pacer Zaman Khan, meanwhile, have been retained in the T20 squad for the New Zealand games.

That of Shaheen and Ihsanullah, are the only additions made to the Pakistan roster from the January ODIs against New Zealand, with upcoming batter Tayyab Tahir shifting into the reserves, flanked by pacer Abbas Afridi and spinner Abrar Ahmed.

The Pakistan squad will assemble in Lahore on April 6.


New Zealand, who also announced their squad for the Pakistan one-dayers on Tuesday, will have the services of former Pakistan head coach Saqlain Mushtaq at their disposal on their tour to the country as their assistant coach.

Saqlain was at the helm of the Pakistan coaching staff as recently as during New Zealand’s tour in January and brings in value with his insights about players whom he has spent a considerable time working with.

“Having someone with Saqlain’s experience is a big boost for the group and we are looking forward to the insights he can offer us to aid our preparations for local conditions, and in particular the assistance he can provide to our spin bowling group,” New Zealand head coach Gary Stead was quoted as saying in a New Zealand Cricket statement.

Tom Latham will lead the BlackCaps ODI squad, which features two potential debutants in Ben Lister and Cole McConchie. Canterbury skipper McConchie is also part of the T20 squad and has won selection on the back of a strong season across all formats in domestic cricket.

The 15-man squad also includes recent ODI debutants Chad Bowes, Rachin Ravindra and Henry Shipley. Those new faces are balanced by an experienced core including six members of the squad that made the final of the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup.

Nine players from the squad also have recent experience in Pakistan, featuring in either the Test or ODI Squads that played in Karachi earlier this year.

Stead said the prospect of taking on Pakistan across both white ball formats was an exciting one.

“We’ve enjoyed a number of exciting matches against Pakistan across both white ball formats in the last season home and way,” observed the coach. “They are a tough team no matter where you take them on.

“The successful ODI series earlier this year in Pakistan provided big learning opportunities for the players and having more ODI match experience is fantastic in a World Cup year.”

The Kiwis’ T20 squad to face Pakistan will depart from New Zealand on April 9 the day after their ongoing T20 Series against Sri Lanka concludes in Queenstown.

Following a few more changes in the tour itinerary, Pakistan Cricket Board today confirmed Rawalpindi, along with two T20Is and the first ODI, will also host the second ODI against New Zealand.

The two ODIs will be played on April 27 and 29 instead of April 26 and, respectively. Karachi, originally scheduled to hold four ODIs, will stage the last three one-day games.

Pakistan T20I squad:: Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan (vice-captain), Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Ihsanullah, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Haris, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Naseem Shah, Saim Ayub, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood and Zaman Khan

Pakistan ODI squad: Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan (vice-captain), Abdullah Shafique, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Haris Sohail, Ihsanullah, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Naseem Shah, Salman Ali Agha, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood and Usama Mir. Reserves: Abbas Afridi, Abrar Ahmed and Tayyab Tahir

New Zealand ODI squad: Tom Latham (captain), Tom Blundell, Chad Bowes, Matt Henry, Ben Lister, Cole McConchie, Adam Milne, Daryl Mitchell, Jimmy Neesham, Henry Nicholls, Rachin Ravindra, Henry Shipley, Ish Sodhi, Blair Tickner, Will Young


April 14: First T20I, Lahore

April 15: Second T20I, Lahore

April 17: Third T20I, Lahore

April 20: Fourth T20I, Rawalpindi

April 24: Fifth T20I, Rawalpindi

April 27: First ODI, Rawalpindi

April 29: Second ODI, Rawalpindi

May 3: Third ODI, Karachi

May 5: Fourth ODI, Karachi

May 7: Fifth ODI, Karachi

Published in Dawn, April 5rd, 2023


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