Cricket is finally returning to full action as Pakistan team are ready to take on high-flying New Zealand in the three-match T20I series.
The opening game of the contest will be played on December 18 in Auckland whereas the second and third T20I will be played in Hamilton and Napier on December 20 and 22, 2020.The series will be followed by two Test matches which will commence from December 26 in Mount Maunganui.
The home team will enter the contest as firm favorites after registering thumping victories against West Indies in the 20-over and five-day formats.
On the other hand, the visitors will be coming in the series as underdogs, largely because of their poor recent form against tough oppositions and also because of the absence of their regular captain Babar Azam, who has been ruled out of the T20Is series after fracturing his thumb during training.
Both teams have competed in 21 matches in the 20-over format before where the Green Caps have a better record with 13 wins compared to Black Caps’ eight victories.
However, on the home soil, Kiwis have a slightly better record where they emerged victorious on five occasion in nine meetings whereas the Men in Green won four times.
In those matches, for Pakistan, veteran all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez is top run-getter with 412 whereas for New Zealand, it is veteran opening batsman Martin Guptill who tops the charts with 463 runs.
Pakistan’s highest score in these matches is 201-5 which they managed to register in 2018 whereas Black Caps’ highest total against the Green Caps in T20Is is 196-5, which they managed to register in 2016.
Players to watch out for:
Mohammad Hafeez is now a season campaigner in the shortest format of the game. The 40-year-old is having an outstanding 2020 with the bat in hand, at least in the 20-over format, where he is currently the seventh-highest run-getter in the calendar year with 865 runs at an average of 45.52, which included seven fifties to his name. With regular captain Babar ruled out from the series, the Pakistan team management will be hoping to see Hafeez producing the goods in the upcoming series and play a crucial role in the team’s win.
Imad Wasim is one of the most under-rated all-rounders in T20 cricket. The left-arm spinner is very hard to score of and has the knack of claiming important wickets as well. With Pakistan’s batting lineup already compromised due to the absence of the regular captain and star batsman Babar, the team management will be hoping to see Imad delivering the goods, at least with the ball in hand. The Karachi Kings’ captain has represented Pakistan in 47 T20Is where he has managed to claim 47 wickets at an average of 21.93 along with an impressive economy-rate of just 6.17.
Martin Guptill is one of the most destructive batsmen in white-ball cricket. The 34-year-old is the country’s leading run-getter in the shortest format of the game where he has managed to score 2,575 runs in 87 innings at an impressive average of 32.18 along with a strike-rate of 134.81, which included two centuries and 15 half-centuries. Therefore, the visitors will be eager to remove Guptill early on knowing that in failure to do so might cost them the game and eventually the series.