Pak vs NZ: New Zealand beat Pakistan by 5 wickets in first T20I

Pakistan had decided to bat after winning the toss in the first T20 match between Pakistan and New Zealand being played in Auckland today.

Before the match started, Pakistani cricket team captain Shadab Khan and New Zealand captain Mitchell Centenary participated in the unveiling ceremony of the T20 series trophy on Friday.

Captains of both teams interacted with the media during the ceremony. 

Pakistani team captain expressed confidence and vowed to perform well in the series against Kiwis.

While Babar Azam’s absence is a blow for the visitors, a blend of youngsters and the experienced ones is good enough to pose a strong challenge to the Black Caps.

Meanwhile, New Zealand team captain Mitchell Centenary said: “All the boys are excited, however, the series will not be easy.”

Pakistan, who already have a 13-8 record against New Zealand in the T20Is, will go as favorites in the first match as the hosts will be without some of their top cricketers, including Kane Williamson, the regular captain who has opted out of the opener of the series due to the birth of his child.

Other notable members of the Kiwis who will miss the opening game on Friday are Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Kyle Jamieson, and the injured Lockie Ferguson.

All-rounder Shadab Khan will be leading the Pakistan Cricket Team against New Zealand in the absence of Babar Azam.

The management has made the decision after Skipper Babar Azam was ruled out due to a fracture in his right thumb earlier this week. 

While Babar Azam’s absence is a blow for the visitors, a blend of youngsters and the experienced ones is good enough to pose a strong challenge to the Black Caps.

The biggest challenge Pakistan will face ahead of the game would be of replacing Babar Azam at the top of the batting order.

There are discussions to promote Rizwan or Hafeez in the batting order and have them open the innings with the young Abdullah Shafiq. Another possibility is to send Haider Ali and Abdullah Shafiq instead.

Pakistan have already announced 15 players for the first game of the series and they are:

Shadab Khan, Abdullah Shafiq, Haider Ali, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Mohammad Hafeez, Faheem Ashraf, Iftekhar Ahmed, Haris Rauf, Imad Wasim, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hasnain, Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Rizwan, Hussain Talat, and Wahab Riaz.