Pakistan take on Kiwis today to launch ICC T20 World Cup preparations

LAHORE   -  Pakistan will kick-off their ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 preparations today (Thurs­day) at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium when they will take on New Zealand in first of the five matches. 

The venue will also host matches on Saturday and Sun­day, while Lahore’s Gaddafi Sta­dium will be the stage for the remaining two matches next week on Thursday and Satur­day.This will be the third five-match series between the two sides inside a 12-month period. Last year, Pakistan and New Zealand drew the series at two-all in Pakistan, while New Zea­land clinched the series 4-1 ear­lier this year in their backyard. 

Pakistan have named un­capped Abrar Ahmed, Moham­mad Irfan Khan and Usman Khan in the 17-player squad, which also sees the return of Babar Azam as the white-ball captain.Mohammad Amir and Imad Wasim are also back in national colours along with fast bowler Naseem Shah. Nas­eem last played for Pakistan in the ACC Asia Cup 2023 before suffering shoulder injury in the match against India in Co­lombo that sidelined him from the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 and tours of Austra­lia and New Zealand. 

Azhar Mahmood, for the first time in his career, will be the head coach of the Pakistan men’s team. The former Test all-rounder has previously worked as the national side’s bowling coach from 2016- 2019. The toss is scheduled to take place at 7:00pm local time and the first will be bowled at 7:30pm local time. 

Pakistan Captain Babar Azam said: “This five-match T20I se­ries holds a lot of importance for us as we look forward to preparing for the all-important mega-event. We had a great fitness camp in Kakul and are looking forward to express our­selves as unit.“New Zealand will challenge us at different points in the series, serving as a fine work out for the Pakistan side. The prospect of having a blend of youth and experience in the side excites me as a leader.” 

New Zealand Captain Mi­chael Bracewell said: “I’m proud to be leading the team on this tour. We’ll look to play entertaining cricket as a side and take the game forward. Most of the players in our squad have played a lot of T20 Cricket growing up and they are very well equipped with the knowledge of this format. Pakistan are formidable side at home and we’ll look to put challenges in their backyard.” 

SQUADS:- PAKISTAN: Babar Azam (captain), Abrar Ahmed, Azam Khan, Fakhar Zaman, If­tikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Abbas Afridi, Mo­hammad Rizwan, Mohmmad Amir, Muhammad Irfan Khan, Naseem Shah, Saim Ayub, Sha­dab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Usama Mir, Usman Khan and Zaman Khan. 

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

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