Pakistan And New Zealand Enter World Cup Mode With ODI Series

Pakistan and New Zealand have a five-match ODI series starting on Thursday in Rawalpindi, which serves as a crucial build-up to the World Cup. The series provides an opportunity for both sides to get a feel for each other’s strengths and weaknesses ahead of the World Cup in India in October-November. The Black Caps surprised the home team by winning the five-match Twenty20 series 2-2, despite missing eight players including captain Kane Williamson due to injury in the ongoing Indian Premier League.

Led by stand-in captain Tom Latham, New Zealand adapted to the conditions skilfully, coming back from 2–0 down in the third and fifth matches, while the fourth match was abandoned after rain.

Middle-order batsman Mark Chapman has been included in the ODI squad after scoring 290 runs for just one wicket in the T20I series – the most by a batsman in a five-match T20I series.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Tom Blundell, who was recently named among Wisden’s five best cricketers of the year, and middle-order batsman Henry Nicholls further strengthened the team.

“It’s a new format and we will have to adapt quickly to this challenging series,” said Latham, second only to Australia in the ODI rankings.

Pakistan, who are fifth, will once again pin their hopes on skipper Babar Azam, who has been the world’s top-ranked ODI batsman for the last two years.

“These five matches are important for our World Cup preparation,” Azam said.

We have eight ODIs and the Asia Cup (for preparation) and we will use them to prepare well.

Pakistan has won five out of seven ODI series under Azam’s captaincy. He got two defeats against England in 2021 and against New Zealand in January this year.

But New Zealand has claimed recent dominance over Pakistan.

Of the last six ODI series between them, New Zealand won five and drew one. Their last series defeat against Pakistan was at home in 2011.

The other matches of the ongoing series are in Rawalpindi on Saturday followed by Karachi on May 3, 5, and 7.

Pakistan: Babar Azam (Captain), Shadab Khan, Abdullah Shafiq, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Haris, Haris Rauf, Haris Sohail, Ihsanullah, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim, Naseem Shah, Agha Salman, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Usma Mir

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