Before the start of the tour, there was already a lot of drama happened. Positive Covid test, isolation breaches, threats from New Zealand that Pakistan were on their final warning and counter-threats of Pakistan returning home anyway. In the end however, the most important thing was that the tour was given a green signal to be continued for both New Zealand and Pakistan.
What was followed was a blow in the Pakistan camp, with the all formats captain Babar Azam was ruled out of T20Is series. Leg spinner Shadab Khan, who was carrying groin niggle, was also expected to be ruled out and wicket-keeper Mohammad Rizwan was expected to lead. However, it was announced that Shadab is fit enough to lead the side.
New Zealand meanwhile, were coming off 2-0 win over West Indies in their recent T20I series. But they also had quite a few issues. Regular captain Kane Williamson will be unavailable for the first game due to the birth of his child while Lockie Fergusion suffered an injury ahead of the series.
Both teams will be looking to get off to a fine start in the series opener despite set backs.
Date: December 18, 2020
Timing: 11:00 AM PKT
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Weather: The conditions are expected to clear throughout the match
Conditions / Pitch Report: The pitch is flat and expect a run fest on this ground, given Eden Park’s short boundaries too.
Head to Head:
Matches: 21 | New Zealand: 8 | Pakistan: 13 | No Result: 0
New Zealand: W W L T(L Super Over) T (L Super Over)
Pakistan: W W W L NR (completed matches, most recent first)
1. New Zealand
New Zealand announced a separate squads for 1st T20I and for the remaining two T20Is. For this squad, many key frontline players such as Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Kane Williamson, Lockie Ferguson and Kyle Jamieson are not included. Under Mitchell Santner’s leadership, New Zealand will try to get off to a great start in the first T20I.
New Zealand’S Probable XI:
1. Tim Seifert (WK), 2. Martin Guptill, 3. Devon Conway, 4. Glenn Philips, 5. Mark Chapman, 6. James Neesham, 7. Mitchell Santner, 8. Doug Bracewell, 9. Todd Astle, 10. Ish Sodhi, 11. Scott Kuggeleijn/Jacob Duffy
Without their regular captain and opener Babar Azam, Pakistan may make some changes in the top order. They announced their 15-men squad for the first T20I. Usman Qadir and Musa Khan was left out. Faheem Ashraf may return to the T20I side while Mohammad Rizwan will likely to open beside Haider Ali, who will be promoted at the top.
Pakistan’s Probable XI:
1. Haider Ali, 2. Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 3. Mohammad Hafeez, 4. Khushdil Shah, 5. Shadab Khan (c), 6. Iftikhar Ahmed, 7. Imad Wasim, 8. Faheem Ashraf, 9. Shaheen Afridi, 10. Wahab Riaz, 11. Haris Rauf
Players to watch:
1. Glenn Philips – Batsman, New Zealand
Glenn Philips may only be 14 T20I matches young, but in his previous series against the West Indies, he scored the fastest century by a New Zealand player in 46 balls in which New Zealand went on to beat West Indies by 72 runs in the second T20I, eventually sealing the series. In such small grounds, Pakistan bowlers need to be vary of his explosive batting.
2. Shadab Khan – All-Rounder, Pakistan
The all rounder did not play in Pakistan’s T20I series against Zimbabwe due to injury, but will make a comeback as the captain of Pakistan. He showed his leadership skills in Pakistan Super League when leading Islamabad United and showed a promising performance along with it. He scored 263 runs at almost an average of 40, while picking eight wickets too. A lot will be expected from him.
Stats and Trivia:
- Pakistan have won on the two most recent occasions these sides have played at Eden Park, with New Zealand’s only win coming 10 years ago in 2010.
- Hafeez needs 41 more runs to overtake Shoaib Malik as the highest run-getter for Pakistan in T20Is.
- Eden Park’s first innings average score in batting first is 171 while batting second is 153. However, teams chasing have won more winning with 10 wins then teams defending with 9 wins.