Pakistan, New Zealand Take ODI Series As World Cup build-up

Series offers both sides opportunity to feel out each other’s strengths and weaknesses ahead of WC

A important World Cup prelude will be a five-match one-day series between Pakistan and New Zealand beginning on Thursday in Rawalpindi.

Prior to the World Cup in India in October-November, the series gives both teams the chance to assess each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

Despite being without eight players—including captain Kane Williamson—due to the ongoing Indian Premier League or injury, the Black Caps stunned the host team by tying a previous five-match Twenty20 series 2-2.

Under interim captain Tom Latham, New Zealand skillfully adjusted to the circumstances, coming back from 2-0 down to win the third and fifth games, with the fourth game being postponed due to weather.

Mark Chapman, a middle-order batsman, has been named to the ODI team after scoring 290 runs in the T20 series with just one dismissal, which is the most runs scored by a batter in a five-match T20I series.

The roster is also strengthened by the additions of middle-order hitter Henry Nicholls and wicketkeeper-batter Tom Blundell, who was recently named one of Wisden’s top five cricketers of the year. According to Latham, whose team is ranked second in the ODI rankings after Australia, “it’s a new format and we have to adapt quickly for this challenging series.”

Babar Azam, the world’s top-ranked ODI hitter for the last two years, will again be Pakistan’s captain as they look to improve their fifth-place ranking.

This World Cup preparation depends on these five games, according to Azam. “We will use the eight ODIs and the Asia Cup (to prepare) in order to be well-prepared.”

Azam has led Pakistan to five victories in seven ODI series. His two defeats came in January of this year, one to New Zealand and the other to England. But New Zealand can boast that it has recently dominated Pakistan. New Zealand has won five and drawn one of their previous six ODI series against each other. Pakistan was their last opponent in a series they lost at home in 2011.

The remaining games of the current series will be played on Saturday in Rawalpindi and then on May 3, 5, and 7 in Karachi.

Written by Muhammad Qasim