After all the drama concerning COVID-19 outbreak in Pakistan camp, the first T20 International of the three-match series is ready to get underway at Eden Park in Auckland on Friday (December 18).
New Zealand are coming off a 2-0 series win over West Indies in the shortest format of the game. Pakistan, on the other hand, have a series win over Zimbabwe.
The wicket at Eden Park generally assists batsmen. A score of around 180 should be competitive enough at this venus as 164 is the average total here considering the last five matches.
Head to head record:
Matches played: 21 | New Zealand: 8 | Pakistan: 13 | Draw: 0 | Tied: 0
New Zealand will miss the presence of some key players in the first T20I. Kane Williamson has taken the paternity leave as recently he became a father of a baby girl.
Trent Boult and Tim Southee have also been rested for this match. Mitchell Santner will captain the side in the absence of Williamson.
NZ XI: Mitchell Santner (c), Martin Guptill, Tim Seifert (wk), Devon Conway, Glenn Phillips, Mark Chapman, James Neesham, Scott Kuggelejin, Todd Astle, Blair Tickner, Ish Sodhi.
Pakistan have suffered a massive blow ahead of the T20I series as their star player Babar Azam suffered a fractured hand; therefore, he has been ruled out of the series.
In the absence of Babar, all-rounder Shadab Khan is expected to lead the team. However, he himself has a groin injury, and it would be interesting to see whether Shadab will play in the first T20I or not.
PAK XI: Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Abdullah Shafique, Haider Ali, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hafeez, Imad Wasim, Faheem Ashraf, Usman Qadir/Shadab Khan, Wahab Riaz, Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Hasnain.