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Cricket World Cup Fever Ignites as Pakistan and New Zealand Kickstart their Campaign

The ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 preparations for Pakistan and New Zealand kick off on Thursday with the first of five One-Day Internationals. The series begins at the iconic Pindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi, which will also host the second ODI on Saturday. Following these matches, the teams will head south to Karachi for the remaining three games.

The two teams enter this series after an electrifying five-match T20 International series that concluded in a 2-2 draw. This closely contested series indicates an equally competitive and thrilling set of five matches to come. Both teams have added a player to their squads, with Pakistan introducing wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Haris and New Zealand bringing in Mark Chapman, the T20Is player of the series.

Pakistan and New Zealand share a competitive head-to-head record in ODI cricket, showcasing a closely contested rivalry. Out of their total matches, Pakistan has claimed 56 victories, while New Zealand has won 50 times. In addition, there has been one tied match and three matches with no result, further emphasizing the intense competition between these two cricketing nations.

As Pakistan gears up for the World Cup in October/November, they are also scheduled to play three ODIs against Afghanistan in August and participate in the ACC Men’s Asia Cup in September. This series is a crucial opportunity to build momentum.

Both Pakistan and New Zealand secured direct qualification for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 by finishing in the top-eight of the 13-team ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League. New Zealand led the Super League with 16 wins in 24 matches, while Pakistan ranked fifth with 13 wins in 21 matches. The series between Pakistan and Afghanistan was postponed after both teams confirmed their World Cup spots.

Pakistan’s performance since last year has been outstanding, boasting the best win-loss ratio of 3. They’ve defeated Australia, West Indies, and the Netherlands, but lost to New Zealand earlier this year in Karachi.

Thursday’s match marks the first encounter between the two teams at the Pindi Cricket Stadium in 20 years. In 2003, New Zealand lost both ODIs played there, and in 2002, Pakistan emerged victorious. Pakistan holds a strong 18-5 head-to-head record against New Zealand on home soil.

Ranked fifth, Pakistan has the opportunity to reach the top of the ICC ODI Team Rankings if they win all five matches against second-ranked New Zealand. A 4-1 series win would elevate Pakistan to third place.

In the ICC ODI Player Rankings, Pakistan’s captain Babar Azam is the top-ranked batter with 887 rating points. He has the potential to cross the 900-point mark, an achievement only attained by Zaheer Abbas and Javed Miandad among Pakistani batters.

Other prominent batters, such as Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Tom Latham, Haris Sohail, and Mohammad Rizwan, will also be looking to improve their rankings with strong performances.

New Zealand’s Matt Henry is the highest-ranked bowler from either side at fifth place, while Pakistan’s Shaheen Shah Afridi is in eighth position. If Shaheen plays on Thursday, it will be his first ODI since June last year. Australia’s Josh Hazlewood holds the top spot for bowlers worldwide.

Pakistan’s vice-captain Shadab Khan, ranked 14th among all-rounders, needs 11 points to enter the top-10.

Chris Broad returns to Pakistan after 14 years as a member of the ICC Elite Panel of Match Referees for this series. Umpiring responsibilities will be shared among Ahsan Raza, Aleem Dar, Asif Yaqoob, Faisal Afridi, Joel Wilson, Langton Rusere, and Rashid Riaz.

Pakistan vs New Zealand ODI Squads

Pakistan: Babar Azam (c), Shadab Khan (vc), Abdullah Shafique, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Haris Sohail, Ihsanullah, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Haris (wk), Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Naseem Shah, Salman Ali Agha, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Usama Mir.

New Zealand: Tom Latham (c), Adam Milne, Ben Lister, Blair Tickner, Chad Bowes, Cole McConchie, Daryl Mitchell, Henry Nicholls, Henry Shipley, Ish Sodhi, Jimmy Neesham, Mark Chapman, Matt Henry, Rachin Ravindra, Tom Blundell, Will Young.

Pakistan vs New Zealand Series schedule (ODIs to begin at 3.30pm local time):

  • 27 Apr – 1st ODI, Rawalpindi
  • 29 Apr – 2nd ODI, Rawalpindi
  • 3 May – 3rd ODI, Karachi
  • 5 May – 4th ODI, Karachi
  • 7 May – 5th ODI, Karachi

Check out full Series Schedule, Squads and Match updates during New Zealand tour of Pakistan 2023 here.

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