New Zealand will face Pakistan in the first T20I in Auckland on Friday.
Mitchell Santner will lead the Black Caps in the absence of Kane Williamson.
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.