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Pakistan, New Zealand build towards World Cup with ODI series

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  • Babar Azam confident Pakistan will do well in white-ball format.
  • Shaheen Afridi and Shadab Khan missing due to injuries.
  • Second and third ODIs to be played on January 11 and 13.

KARACHI: Pakistan and New Zealand will face off in the first of three one-day internationals in Karachi today (Monday), with an eye on this year’s World Cup in India.

The preceding Test series between the two teams failed to produce a result in either of the two Tests — both in Karachi — ending a miserable season for both teams.

Pakistan failed to win any of their three-Test series at home, losing four of the eight Tests, including their first-ever 3-0 whitewash at the hands of England.

New Zealand also failed to win any of their last six Tests.

But Babar Azam is confident his team will do well in the limited over matches.

“Pakistan has proved themselves to be a good white-ball team, and this series provides us a perfect launching pad to kickstart our World Cup preparations,” said Azam of the World Cup in October/November.

Azam´s team won eight one-day internationals last year, including a 2-1 series win over a formidable Australia at home.

“We are a well-rounded side with solid batters and bowlers who have proved themselves time and again so I am confident of doing well in the coming series,” said Azam.

Pakistan will miss pace spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi, who is recovering from a knee injury sustained in November last year while spinning allrounder Shadab Khan is also out with a recent finger fracture.

Opener Fakhar Zaman will bolster the batting, as well as Haris Sohail — recalled after two years.

New Zealand, runners-up in the last World Cup in 2019, won ten of their 16 ODIs last year and have a strong unit led by Kane Williamson.

They have been dominant against Pakistan, having won 12 of the last 15 ODIs between the two teams.

Williamson is also concentrating on World Cup, having relinquished Test captaincy.

“I felt that continuing to captain the white-ball formats was preferable with two World Cups in the next two years,” he said last month, referring to the 2023 ODI and 2024 T20 World Cups.

The accomplished batter acknowledged Pakistan’s strengths.

“Pakistan is a very strong side and naturally know these conditions very well,” said Williamson.

“For us as a team it’s focusing on the cricket we want to play and try put out some improved performances.”

New Zealand pacer Matt Henry is also out of ODIs with an abdominal strain sustained on the final day of the drawn second Test.

For varied reasons, they are already missing pace trio Trent Boult, Kyle Jamieson and Adam Milne.

The remaining matches are on Wednesday and Friday, also in Karachi.

Teams:

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (captain), Tom Latham, Finn Allen, Michael Bracewell, Devon Conway, Lockie Ferguson, Daryl Mitchell, Henry Nicholls, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Henry Shipley, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Blair Tickner

Pakistan: Babar Azam (captain), Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Kamran Ghulam, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim, Naseem Shah, Agha Salman, Shahnawaz Dahani, Shan Masood, Tayyab Tahir, Usama Mir

Umpires: Aleem Dar (PAK) and Asif Yaqoob (PAK)

TV umpire: Ahsan Raza (PAK)

Match referee: David Boon (AUS)

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Weather in Rawalpindi: PMD prediction for the Pakistan-New Zealand T20Is

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Rain is expected to have an impact on Pakistan vs. New Zealand’s five-match Twenty20 International series.

According to meteorological projections, the city is likely to have thunderstorms and rain starting tomorrow, and the rain is predicted to continue all week.

The series’ final two games are slated to take place in Lahore.

The Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) has forecasted a “rain-windstorm/thunderstorm with an isolated hailstorm” on April 18 throughout a number of Pakistani regions, including upper/southwest Sindh, KP, Gilgit-Baltistan, Kashmir, Islamabad, Punjab, and Balochistan.

On April 20, however, precipitation was predicted by the Met Office for KP, the nation’s capital, Punjab, northeastern Balochistan, Kashmir, and Gilgit-Baltistan.

The New Zealand team has already landed in Islamabad for an intriguing five-match Twenty20 International series against Pakistan, it should be mentioned.

Pakistan vs New Zealand T20I series:

18 April: 1st T20I, Rawalpindi (7pm Pakistan Standard Time)
20 April: 2nd T20I, Rawalpindi (7pm PST)
21 April: 3rd T20I, Rawalpindi (7pm PST)
25 April: 4th T20I, Lahore (7pm PST)
27 April: 5th T20I, Lahore (7pm PST)

Pakistan squad:
Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Saim Ayub, Usman Khan, Iftikhar Ahmed, Azam Khan (wk), Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah, Mohammad Amir, Abbas Afridi, Abrar Ahmed, Fakhar Zaman, Irfan Khan Niazi, Usama Mir, and Zaman Khan
Reserves: Haseebullah, Mohammad Ali, Agha Salman, Sahibzada Farhan, and Mohammad Wasim Jr

New Zealand squad:
Michael Bracewell (c), Tom Blundell, Mark Chapman, Josh Clarkson, Jacob Duffy, Dean Foxcroft, Ben Lister, Cole McConchie, Zak Foulkes, Jimmy Neesham, Will O’Rourke, Tim Robinson, Ben Sears, Tim Seifert (WK), and Ish Sodhi

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PCB acquires a multi-story structure next to Gaddafi Stadium

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The multi-story building is set to undergo renovations and be converted into a seven-star hotel, catering to both local and foreign guests.

With this development, the problem of housing foreign players and visiting teams during the Pakistan Super League (PSL)—who presently have to stay in five-star hotels in the area—will be resolved.

This will also save travel time and get rid of traffic problems while teams are traveling from their hotels to the stadium.

In addition, three significant stadiums, including the Gaddafi Stadium, are being renovated by PCB in preparation for the 2025 ICC Champions Trophy, which will be held in Pakistan.

In an interview with the media during the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 9 final last month, Chairman PCB Mohsin Naqvi acknowledged the necessity of upgrading three main stadiums before moving on to other locations.

“Before the Champions Trophy, our three key venues—Lahore, Karachi, and Rawalpindi—will be refurbished. After these three are completed, we will renovate the remaining venues as well. After they are renovated, our stadiums will be state-of-the-art, according to Chairman PCB.

Later that month, representatives from NESPAK (National Engineering Services of Pakistan) gave the chairman the idea to renovate three significant stadiums.

In addition to highlighting the significance of renovating the hospitality boxes at all three locations, the chairman gave instructions to the officials about his plans to improve the view for the fans from every seat in the stadium, according to a press statement from the PCB.

“The Chairman directed the NESPAK officials to begin stadium work immediately, keeping in mind a tight window of time before hosting the ICC Champions Trophy 2025, as the upgradation plan will be finalized soon.”

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Shan Masood desires test matches between India and Pakistan.

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Due to long-standing political difficulties between the two adjacent countries, Pakistan and India have not played a Test match since 2007–08 and a bilateral series in any format since 2012–13.

However, only international competitions such as the Asia Cup and ICC World Cups brought the bitter adversaries together.

Their most recent match took place in front of an enormous crowd of about 130,000 in Ahmedabad’s Narendra Modi Stadium for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2024, while their T20 World Cup 2022 match was seen by an even larger gathering of about 94,000 people at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).

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