Pakistan v New Zealand: First T20I Preview

Cricket ball sits on pitch

Jonhenry previews the first T20 International between Pakistan and New Zealand taking place on the 31st of October.

Pakistan come into the series against New Zealand ranked number one in the world in T20I cricket, on the back of 10 successive T20I series wins.

The Black Caps arrive in the United Arab Emirates a little underdone and without some of their best performers in the format.

Pakistan v New Zealand | Wednesday, 31 October| Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi | 18:00

To Win Match
Pakistan 4/7
Tie 8/1 
New Zealand 11/8

*Forecast odds

Pakistan
The blend of youth and experience in Pakistan's top-order has, so far, served them well with Mohammad Hafeez and Babar Azam in rich form despite being at very different stages in their respective careers.

Babar might be considered the best T20I batsman in the world right now if India's Virat Kohli wasn't the white-ball juggernaut he is, while Hafeez offers a cool head and a few overs of off-spin if needed.

Imad Wasim has impressed in his new role as an opening bowler and his performances alongside young left-arm seamer Shaheen Afridi with the new ball will keep the likes of Mohammad Amir out of this formidable T20I XI.

Pakistan's fielding has improved immensely under Mickey Arthur but they remain prone to lapses that the coach will want to see eliminated.

New Zealand
Kane Williamson brings his New Zealand team to the UAE without opener Martin Guptill and highly-ranked left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner, who has been sidelined by a long-term injury.

Wicket-keeper-batsman Glenn Phillips was called into the squad after an impressive run in the Caribbean Premier League earlier this year, while all-rounder Corey Anderson was a second late addition to the group.

Williamson holds the key to New Zealand matching Pakistan in this series - and will need to match the runs scored by Pakistan's key man Azam.

New Zealand have not played any cricket since March - and haven't featured in a T20I since losing the Trans-Tasman tri-series final to Australia at Eden Park in February. New Zealand's A team have been in the UAE facing their Pakistan counterparts, though, while their domestic programme kicked off in late October.

Verdict: Pakistan 4/7 *Forecast odds
Pakistan are in top form and New Zealand are coming into this series cold, which should be too much for the Black Caps to overcome.

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