Pak vs NZ: Shaheen Shah-led playing XI announced for first T20I

Mohammad Rizwan and Saim Ayub will open the match with Babar Azam featuring in the middle order

By Web Desk
January 12, 2024
Pakistan T20 skipper Shaheen Shah Afrifi (left) and New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson. — PCB

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Friday unveiled the final playing eleven, led by Shaheen Shah Afridi, for the first match of the T20I series against New Zealand set to take place today at Eden Park in Auckland.

The first ball of the match will be bowled at 11:10 Pakistani time. The five-match series will be played from January 12-21. 

Today’s match will mark left-arm pacer Shaheen's first assignment as captain, having taken over the reins from Babar Azam.

Rizwan and Saim will open the match with Babar Azam featuring in the middle order. Fakhar, Iftikhar, and Azam Khan will show up at the crease on the fourth, fifth and sixth positions, respectively. Aamir and Usama will bat on the seventh and eighth numbers.

Fourth-ranked Pakistan last played T20Is in April 2023, when they faced New Zealand at home for a five-match series played in Lahore and Rawalpindi.

Wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Rizwan, who has been named Shaheen’s vice-captain, was Pakistan’s leading run-getter in the series. Right-arm pacer Haris Rauf was the most successful bowler during that assignment.

Spinner Abrar Ahmed, who was initially part of the squad, has been ruled out owing to an injury he sustained last month during Pakistan’s Test tour of Australia.

Shaheen, in the pre-series press conference, said: “It is a great honour and a proud moment to be captaining Pakistan. We are a good T20 side and that has reflected in our performances the past few years. We have done well in World Cups but have not been able to finish as we wanted. We will focus on getting the results we want in big tournaments.

“We have 17 games before the World Cup, which is later this year. We want to make sure we have our combination locked in time for that but we also want to ensure that we have a strong bench, in case of injuries during the tournament. We will be testing our younger talent and rotating the players so that by the time we play the series in England, we have clarity about our combination.”

Pakistan’s Playing XI: Shaheen Shah Afridi (captain), Mohammad Rizwan (vice-captain, wicket-keeper), Aamir Jamal, Abbas Afridi (debutant), Azam Khan (wicket-keeper), Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Saim Ayub, and Usama Mir (debutant).

Full schedule:

1st T20 – 12 January 2024 at Eden Park, Auckland

2nd T20 – 14 January 2024 at Seddon Park, Hamilton

3rd T20 – 17 January 2024 at University Oval, Dunedin

4th T20 – 19 January 2024 at Hagley Oval, Christchurch

5th T20 – 21 January 2024 at Hagley Oval, Christchurch