An inexperienced New Zealand white-ball team will aim to carry its strong Twenty20 performances over to the five-match ODI series against Pakistan when it starts Thursday. (More Cricket News)
Anchored by player of the series Mark Champan's unbeaten century in the fifth and final game, New Zealand drew the T20 series 2-2 after losing the first two matches at Lahore.
“We were probably a little bit underdone, but I think from game to game we got better and better,” New Zealand captain Tom Latham told reporters on the eve of the first ODI at Pindi Cricket Stadium on Wednesday. “Now we've got a couple of changes in the squad and from our point of view, it's just about trying to play our brand of cricket as best we can.
“The performances and the momentum that we've potentially built through the T20s, hopefully we can take that straight into the game tomorrow.”
New Zealand included Chapman for the five-match ODI series in Pakistan after the left-hander scored 290 runs in five matches and was dismissed just once. Tom Blundell and Henry Nicholls have also joined the squad for the ODI series as New Zealand are touring Pakistan without eight of its frontline white-ball players, who are busy playing in the Indian Premier League.
“Mark Chapman has been in fantastic form throughout that T20 series,” Latham said of the middle-order batter, who has played seven ODIs but hasn't featured in the 50-over format for New Zealand since July 2022. “The way he played not only in that last game, but also the game beforehand, it's obviously great that we can include him in the squad as well.”
Latham was not willing to look ahead to the World Cup in India later this year, when several of his countrymen playing in the IPL will likely be in contention.
“We're trying to not look too far ahead,” Latham said. “There's a World Cup coming up in a few months time, but if we look too far ahead, we'll probably lose focus of the job at hand here over the next next two weeks. So we're looking forward to the challenge and hopefully we can play well.”
Pakistan, under its all-format captain Babar Azam, has a below-par home season that saw them losing the T20 series against England at home before the T20 World Cup in Australia. England also made a 3-0 clean sweep in the test series, while New Zealand drew the test series 0-0 before winning a three-match ODI series 2-1 earlier this year.
Pakistan has added wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Haris into the squad as part of its build up for the World Cup. Pakistan is also scheduled to play three ODIs against Afghanistan in August and the Asia Cup in September prior to the World Cup in India.
“Each and every match that we play from now on holds a great significance for us,” Azam said. “This series is a brilliant opportunity for us to fine tune our combinations and gather the momentum ahead of the mega events.”
Pakistan has beefed up its batting lineup with the inclusion of Imam-ul-Haq, Haris Sohail and Abdullah Shafique while leg-spinner Usama Mir also returns after being ignored for the T20 series.
Rawalpindi will host the first ODIs before Karachi hosts the remaining three ODIs.
Pakistan: Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan, Abdullah Shafique, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Haris Sohail, Ihsanullah, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Haris, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim, Naseem Shah, Salman Ali Agha, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood and Usama Mir.
New Zealand: Tom Latham (captain), 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 and Will Young.