Pakistan and New Zealand begin a five-match one-day series in Rawalpindi on Thursday, serving as an important build-up to the World Cup.
The series allows both teams to assess each other’s strengths and shortcomings ahead of the World Cup in India in October-November.
Despite missing eight players, including skipper Kane Williamson, due to the ongoing Indian Premier League or injury, the Black Caps stunned the host side by tying the previous five-match Twenty20 series 2-2.
New Zealand adapted to the conditions expertly under stand-in skipper Tom Latham, fighting back from 2-0 down to win the third and fifth matches, with the fourth abandoned due to rain.
Mark Chapman, a middle-order hitter, has been added to the ODI team after scoring 290 runs for one removal in the T20 series — the most runs by a batter in a five-match T20I series.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Tom Blundell, who was recently named one of Wisden’s five greatest cricketers of the year, and middle-order batter Henry Nicholls round out the group.
“It’s a new format, and we have to adapt quickly for this challenging series,” added Latham, whose country is ranked second in the ODI rankings, behind Australia.
Pakistan, who are sixth in the rankings, will again rely on skipper Babar Azam, who has been the world’s best ODI batter for the last two years.
“These five matches are crucial for our World Cup preparation,” Azam explained. “We have eight ODIs and the Asia Cup to prepare for, and we will use them to be well prepared.”
Pakistan has won five of the seven One-Day International (ODI) series that Azam has commanded. His two defeats were to England in 2021 and to New Zealand in January of this year.
However, New Zealand has recently dominated Pakistan.
New Zealand has won five and drawn one of the last six ODI series between them. Their previous series loss to Pakistan was at home in 2011.
The current series continues on Saturday in Rawalpindi, followed by matches in Karachi on May 3, 5, and 7.
Pakistan: Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan, Abdullah Shafique, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Haris, Haris Rauf, Haris Sohail, Ihsanullah, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim, Naseem Shah, Agha Salman, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Usama Mir
New Zealand: Tom Latham (captain), Tom Blundell, Chad Bowes, Mark Chapman, Matt Henry, Ben Lister, Cole McConchie, Adam Milne, Daryl Mitchell, Jimmy Neesham, Henry Nicholls, Rachin Ravindra, Henry Shipley, Ish Sodhi, Blair Tickner, Will Young.