Cricket Twenty20 International Prediction
Pakistan vs New Zealand - Match Preview
🏏14 April 2023 - 20:00 GMT +0
In what appears to now be a concerted effort from Pakistan’s cricket board to keep their players and broadcasters busy during the two-month IPL window, five T20Is and five ODIs have been organised to take place during a busy period of a little more than three weeks. For that, they are indebted to the diplomacy and friendship of touring New Zealand, who agreed to additional games during this tour to make up for abandoning September 2021 on the first day due to security concerns.
After they rested some of their star players for a recent series against Afghanistan in Sharjah, during which they suffered both their first and second T20I losses to the Afghans in a 2-1 result, a full-strength squad is back for a five-game series which begins in Lahore (three games) before moving to Rawalpindi. Captain Babar Azam is back with wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan and star bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi, the latter of whom has not played since leading the Lahore Qalandars to a record-breaking PSL title.
The home side is back at the site of their last three T20Is, which concluded a thrilling seven-game series against world champions England (L 4-3) that went down to the final game. Since hosting South Africa in early 2021, Pakistan has not secured back-to-back wins in Lahore from seven attempts (W3, L4) and some of their elite crew have struggled individually in recent years. Babar Azam’s imperious career T20I average of 44 drops to 35 in Lahore T20Is over the last three calendar years, as does those of Shan Masood (21) and Iftikhar Ahmed (17). As the only half-centurion from an intra-squad practice match at the weekend, 20-year-old Saim Ayub could be squeezed into the middle order (below Babar and Rizwan) after making 49 in the third T20I against Afghanistan.
New Zealand has never played T20I cricket in Pakistan but was in the country just three months ago for a successful three-game ODI series (2-1), albeit all in Karachi and with a much stronger squad. They should be full of confidence after triumphing last month in a home series against Sri Lanka (2-1) despite losing no fewer than nine starters to the IPL. The Blackcaps have rewarded every member of that winning squad with a tour of Pakistan with the exception of Tim Seifert (0, 79* and 88 in that series) who is staying home to meet his first child. Dane Cleaver, Cole McConchie and Blair Tickner were added to the 12 existing players.
Considering the relative inexperience of the New Zealand squad, more than half of whom have fewer than ten individual T20I caps (only Jimmy Neesham and Ish Sodhi have more than 50), it’s probably not worth dwelling on their recent history in similar conditions that includes series losses in both Bangladesh (2-3) and India (0-3) either side of their run to the 2021 T20 World Cup final in the UAE. One of their secret weapons during this series will be spending his time off the pitch: legendary Pakistan spinner Saqlain Mushtaq has been signed on as an assistant coach for the Blackcaps just months after stepping down as Pakistan’s interim head coach.
⚡ Key battle: Courtesy of a century, two fifties and a 42 from his last six innings within its walls, Mohammad Rizwan has been Pakistan’s top scorer in Lahore since the start of 2021 (284 runs at 56.80). He also led the run-scoring charts in the home ODI series against Pakistan (184) in January. He was dismissed twice by spin in that series, including once by New Zealand leg-spinner Ish Sodhi. Sodhi has impressive career figures of 2/32 from 25 balls bowled to Rizwan in T20Is.
📋 Stat attack: The average first innings T20I score in Lahore is 167, climbing to 175 for teams who win batting first. All five first-innings scores of 180+ were defended, whilst nine of the other 13 were not.
- In this year’s 2023 Pakistan Super League, it was even higher at 186.55, with eight of its nine matches won by batting first.
- Pakistan conceded an opening partnership of 20+ runs in just one of their last five home T20Is.
- New Zealand conceded a hefty 27 sixes from their recent three home T20Is against Sri Lanka and scored 18 in return.
- From his six PSL games in Lahore this season, Shaheen Shah Afridi picked up figures of 4/51, and 5/40 and went wicketless in the other four matches!
- Haris Rauf to Mark Chapman in T20Is: 2/14 from 11 balls.
- Naseem Shah has taken one or no wickets in each of his last nine T20Is (4/228 at 7.6rpo).
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