History will be made today as Pakistan will take on New Zealand in the first of the three One-Day Internationals at the Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi after a hiatus of 18 years. The occasion will see the tourists play their first match on Pakistan soil since 2003.
Pakistan and New Zealand last met in an international 50-over competition during the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 when Babar Azam’s glorious century anchored his side to a fabulous six-wicket win at Birmingham.
This series provides an opportunity to sixth-ranked Pakistan to climb a spot in the ICC Rankings. If the hosts beat the tourists by a 3-0 scoreline, they would jump to fifth position, however, any other result will see both sides retain their pre-series rankings.
New Zealand, the top-ranked ODI team in the ICC Rankings and the finalists of the 2019 World Cup, come into this series with a 3-0 sweep over Bangladesh in the three-match ODI series at home in March and will be eager to extend their winning streak.
The guest team's captain Tom Latham will perform multiple roles namely stand-in captain, wicketkeeper, middle-order accumulator and middle-order power-hitter in the series, according to an ESPNcricinfo story.
Pakistan’s last outing in the format at this venue was in October-November 2020, when they defeated Zimbabwe 2-1, while in their last ODI series, they defeated South Africa by 2-1.
The series will not be part of the ICC World Cup Super League as both the PCB and NZC have mutually agreed to swap the status of this series with the one taking place in the 2022-23 season. This means the ODI series in the 2022-23 season will count towards the World Cup 2023 qualification while the series commencing on Friday will be a bilateral fixture in which team and player ranking points will be up for grabs.
Pakistan captain Babar Azam, in his pre-series media conference held online, said: “Finally, the day has arrived and our entire camp is very excited to play New Zealand at home. We have practiced hard for this series and I am sure we will take full advantage of our home conditions.
“We have a balanced squad and I remain optimistic about our chances in what promises to be an exciting series. I am sure fans at the stadium and millions watching us on screens will enjoy these matches.”
New Zealand captain Tom Latham said: “We know it is special for Pakistan to have cricket in their country and we are excited to be here. Pakistan are a quality side and they have some talented white-ball players in their line-up.
“We have desired fire-power in our ranks to win this series and I am sure our batters and bowlers will rise to the occasion and make this historic series memorable for us.”
The second and third matches will be played on 19 and 21 September at the same venue after which the two sides will travel to Lahore for five T20Is between 25 September to 3 October.