The three-match T20I series between Pakistan and New Zealand will kick off from December 18, 20, and 22 in Auckland, Hamilton and Napier.
Pakistan suffered a huge blow ahead of series as Babar Azam ruled out of New Zealand T20Is, after suffering a fracture in his right thumb during a practice session in Queenstown. Meanwhile, opener Fakhar Zaman was also not able to travel with the side to New Zealand after failing to recover in time, from fever, for the Pakistan squad’s departure for the tour.
In absence of both openers (Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman), Pakistan are forced to change their opening pair.
According to sources, Wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan and young batsman Abdullah Shafique are likely to open the innings for Pakistan during the upcoming three-match T20I series against New Zealand.
It is reported that, Mohammad Rizwan was set to open the innings for Pakistan, during the T20Is, even before the injury to Babar. Now in absence of Babar Azam he will be joined by Abdullah Shafique, who scored an unbeaten 41 during his debut T20I innings against Zimbabwe recently, at the top of the order.
Mohammad Rizwan is also favorite candidate to lead national cricket side if Shadab Khan fails to recover before the first Twnety20 International on December 18.
While All-rounder Imad Wasim, who won the Pakistan Super League (PSL) season five with Karachi Kings, and veteran all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez are other two candidates who are expected to lead national cricket side.
Mohammad Rizwan did well in National T20 Cup as opener and captain and led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to National T20 Cup title.
Pakistan’s T20I Squad:
1. Babar Azam (Ruled Out), 2. Shadab Khan (vice-captain), 3. Abdullah Shafique, 4. Faheem Ashraf, 5. Haider Ali, 6. Haris Rauf, 7. Hussain Talat, 8. Iftikhar Ahmed, 9. Imad Wasim, 10. Khushdil Shah, 11. Mohammad Hafeez, 12. Mohammad Hasnain, 13. Mohammad Musa Khan, 14. Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 15. Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), 16. Shaheen Shah Afridi, 17. Usman Qadir, 18. Wahab Riaz.