Pakistan launches World Cup preparations on Thursday
Pakistan’s preparations for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 will begin on Thursday when they will take on New Zealand in the first of the five One-Day Internationals.
The series will commence at the iconic Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi, which will also host the second ODI on Saturday, before the two teams will fly south for the remaining three matches in Karachi.
The two sides will enter the series after an exciting five-match T20 International series that ended in a 2-2 draw on Monday. That well-fought series promises equally competitive and exciting five matches for which both the sides have added a player each. Pakistan have added wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Haris and New Zealand has included Mark Chapman, whose extraordinary batting efforts in the T20Is earned him player of the series award.
In addition to this series and in the lead up to the World Cup, which will be held in October/November, Pakistan are also scheduled to play three ODIs against Afghanistan in August and September’s ACC Men’s Asia Cup. As such, this series comes with the vital opportunity to gather the momentum.
Both Pakistan and New Zealand have qualified directly for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 after finishing in the top-eight of the 13-team ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League. New Zealand topped the Super League with 16 wins in 24 matches, while Pakistan finished fifth with 13 wins in 21 matches. Pakistan’s series against Afghanistan was mutually postponed after both the sides were assured of places in the event proper.
Pakistan’s record since the start of last year has also been a remarkable one. They enjoy the win-loss ratio of 3, which is the best for any side. During this period, they have beaten Australia (2-1), West Indies (3-0) and the Netherlands (3-0) before losing to New Zealand (2-1) earlier in the year in Karachi.
Babar Azam: “Each and every match that we play from now on holds a great significance for us. This series is a brilliant opportunity for us to fine-tune our combinations and gather the momentum ahead of the mega events in the shape of Asia Cup and the much-anticipated World Cup.
“This team has done well in the past one year in the one-day format and I have firm faith in my boys that they will perform according to expectations in the exciting next seven months.”
Tom Latham: “The T20Is proved an outstanding series and we’re looking forward to switching to one day mode now. The preparation wasn’t ideal but for us that wasn’t an excuse. It was about just keep getting better game from game and keep learning. We did that and to come out with a series draw after being two down was awesome.
“It's going to be a tough ODI series on the back of what this T20I series has produced. We have seen some great games of cricket and the one-day series is going to be no different.
“It’s a new format, and we have to adapt quickly. Hopefully we can do that straight away.”
Thursday’s match will be the first between the two sides at the Pindi Cricket Stadium in 20 years. In 2003, New Zealand played two ODIs and lost both by seven wickets and 49 runs. A year earlier, Pakistan had defeated New Zealand by three wickets. Overall, Pakistan enjoy a healthy 18-5 on a head to head on home soil.
On the ICC ODI Team Rankings, fifth-ranked Pakistan has a chance to move to the top of the table. However, to make it happen, they will have to win all the five matches against the second-ranked New Zealand. A 4-1 series win will lift Pakistan to third.
In the ICC ODI Player Rankings, Pakistan captain Babar Azam is the No.1 ranked batter. He is sitting on 887 rating points and has a chance to break the 900-point threshold, which is the hallmark of a great batter. Zaheer Abbas (931) and Javed Miandad (910) are the only two Pakistan batters who have previously achieved the ratings of 900 or more.
Imam-ul-Haq (third), Fakhar Zaman (10th), Tom Latham (32nd), Haris Sohail (47th) and Mohammad Rizwan (64th) are the other prominent batters to feature in the series and will be eying an upward movement with strong performances.
New Zealand’s Matt Henry is the highest-ranked bowler from either side. He is ranked fifth, while Pakistan’s Shaheen Shah Afridi is 35 points behind in eighth position. If Shaheen takes the field on Thursday, then it will be his first ODI since taking one for 17 against the West Indies in Multan in June last year. Australia’s Josh Hazlewood is the number-one ranked bowler in the world.
Amongst the all-rounders, Pakistan vice-captain Shadab Khan is ranked 14th and needs 11 points to break into the top-10.
The series will also see the return of Chris Broad to Pakistan for the first time in 14 years. The former England opener and member of the ICC Elite Panel of Match Referees will referee in all the five ODIs with umpiring responsibilities to be shared between Ahsan Raza, Aleem Dar, Asif Yaqoob, Faisal Afridi, Joel Wilson, Langton Rusere and Rashid Riaz.
Pakistan - Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan (vice-captain), Abdullah Shafique, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Haris Sohail, Ihsanullah, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Haris (wk), Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Mohammad Wasim Jnr, 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
Series schedule (all matches begin at 3:30pm)
27 Apr – First ODI, Rawalpindi. Aleem Dar and Ahsan Raza (on-field), Rashid Riaz (third umpire), Faisal Afridi (fourth umpire); Chris Broad (match referee)
29 Apr – Second ODI, Rawalpindi. Aleem Dar and Rashid Riaz (on-field), Ahsan Raza (third umpire), Asif Yaqoob (fourth umpire); Chris Broad (match referee)
3 May – Third ODI, Karachi. Langton Rusere and Faisal Afridi (on-field), Joel Wilson (third umpire), Rashid Riaz (fourth umpire); Chris Broad (match referee)
5 May – Fourth ODI, Karachi. Joel Wilson and Asif Yaqoob (on-field), Langton Rusere (third umpire), Faisal Afridi (fourth umpire); Chris Broad (match referee)
7 May – Fifth ODI, Karachi. Langton Rusere and Rashid Riaz (on-field), Joel Wilson (third umpire), Asif Yaqoob (fourth umpire); Chris Broad (match referee)