Depleted New Zealand sustain major blow ahead of Pakistan T20Is

WELLINGTON   -  New Zealand’s inexperienced squad for the five-match away T20I series against Pakistan got weakened as hard-hitting open­er Finn Allen and speedster Adam Milne have been ruled out of the series. 

According to New Zealand Cricket (NZC), Allen and Milne suffered injuries in the team’s training session that concluded just hours before their depar­ture for Pakistan. Adam Milne felt discomfort in his ankle while Finn Allen sustained an injury to his back and were sub­sequently left out of New Zea­land’s already depleted squad. 

“We feel for both Finn and Adam, suffering injuries so close to the start of the tour. They have been strong per­formers for us in the T20 format since the last World Cup,” New Zealand coach Gary Stead said. “Our support staff and medi­cal networks will be working closely with both players over the next few weeks to complete plans for their treatment and subsequent return to cricket.” 

As a result, wicketkeeper-batsman Tom Blundell and all-rounder Zak Foulkes replaced Allen and Milne respectively. Blundell has previously visited Pakistan while uncapped Foul­kes will likely be making his debut for New Zealand. “Zak has had an impressive season for Canterbury including being their leading wicket-taker in all three competitions,” Stead said. 

“He has displayed impressive skills with the ball, particularly in T20 cricket for the Kings. We also know he has skills with the bat and it will be an excellent opportunity for him to be part of the group.” 

New Zealand are slated to reach Pakistan on April 14, two days after Pakistan’s squad an­nouncement, for the crucial series, leading to the ICC Men’s T20I World Cup. Rawalpindi’s Pindi Cricket Stadium will host the first three T20Is between Pakistan and New Zealand on 18, 20 and 21 April.The two sides will then travel to Lahore to lock horns in the remaining two T20Is on 25 and 27 April, respectively. 

NEW ZEALAND SQUAD: Mi­chael Bracewell (c), Tom Blundell, Mark Chapman, Josh Clarkson, Jacob Duffy, Dean Foxcroft, Ben Lister, Cole McCo­nchie, Zak Foulkes, Jimmy Nee­sham, Will O’Rourke, Tim Rob­inson, Ben Sears, Tim Seifert (WK), Ish Sodhi. 

PAKISTAN SQUAD: Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Saim Ayub, Usman Khan, If­tikhar Ahmed, Azam Khan (wk), Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah, Mohammad Amir, Abbas Afridi, Abrar Ahmed, Fakhar Zaman, Irfan Khan Niazi, Usama Mir, Zaman Khan.RESERVES: Has­eebullah, Mohammad Ali, Agha Salman, Sahibzada Farhan, Mo­hammad Wasim Jr.

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