Pakistan face New Zealand in decisive T20I tomorrow 

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Pakistan face New Zealand in the decisive T20I tomorrow (Wednesday) as they need to produce a phenomenal performance to end the winning streak of New Zealand and also to avoid a series defeat in the 3rd T20 International in Dunedin.

After back-to-back defeats at the hands of the hosts, the Men in Green are are 0-2 down in the five-match Twenty20 International series. Despite having a number of T20I specialists, including young and talented Saim Ayub, aggressive Fakhar Zaman, Iftikhar Ahmad, Azam Khan, T20 specialist Muhammad Rizwan, and reliable Babar Azam, the team is still unable to record their first victory of the series in New Zealand.  

In both the T20 Internationals against New Zealand, the Pakistani top order, including Saim Ayub, Babar Azam, and Fakhar Zaman, dominated the Kiwis, but due to the collapse of the middle order, the Green Caps failed to win a single encounter. The third encounter is also important for Pakistan to avoid series defeat, as the Kiwis required just one victory to clinch the series.  

It is worth mentioning here that Pakistan is playing in the T20 format for the first time under the leadership of Shaheen Shah Afridi with Muhammad Rizwan as his deputy. This happened after the batting maestro Babar Azam stepped down as leader of the team amid a humiliating defeat in the ODI World Cup in October 2023.  

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced the playing XI for the 3rd T20I against the Kiwis with some changes. According to a statement issued by the PCB on their official website (pcb.com.pk), the PCB mentioned that Usama Mir, Aamer Jamal, and Abbas Afrid would not be part of the 3rd T20I while Muhammad Wasim Junior, Muhammad Nawaz, and Zaman Khan would be inducted in the playing XI against the home side. 

It is worth mentioning here that Muhammad Abbas received a minor injury. However, it is yet to be decided whether he will be fit for the next game or not. The Black Caps are dominating the series with a 2-0 margin, including a 21-run victory in the second match last Sunday. Pakistan lost the first game by 46 runs. 

For New Zealand, Finn Allen has showcased top-notch performance in both games. In the first game, he hit a quick-fire 15-ball 34 runs. Meanwhile, in the Hamilton T20I, he struck 74 off a mere 41 deliveries while also stitching a 50-plus run partnership with fellow opener Devon Conway. The opening batter, who bolsters New Zealand’s top order, would play a key part in the forthcoming game as well. Adam Milne could be key for New Zealand in the third T20I against Pakistan. The right-arm fast bowler was crucial in the Kiwis’ both victories, picking a total of six wickets so far in this series. He is expected to carry on his bowling prowess in the crucial game.

The pitch at the University Oval favours batters as it has comparatively smaller boundaries and a flat pitch which ensures an even bounce. Since it has a quick outfield, the batters can make use of it, playing some powerful shots. Despite the surface offering a greater challenge for the bowlers, the toss-winning captain is likely to opt to bowl first, as chasing would be the ideal strategy on this ground.

The Pakistan cricket team is currently in Dunedin to prepare for the third decisive T20I against New Zealand as a loss there would result in a series defeat. Shaheen Afridi’s troops enjoyed a day out in Dunedin before the third T20I where players had a dinner inside a restaurant and enjoyed the moments. Shaheen, Babar Azam, and others were seen sharing happy moments as they were accompanied by the team’s management staff including the likes of Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Hafeez, and Umar Gul.

PAKISTAN: Shaheen Shah Afridi (captain), Muhammad Rizwan (vice-captain), Azam Khan (wicket-keeper), Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Saim Ayub, Muhammad Wasim Junior, Muhammad Nawaz, and Zaman Khan. 

NEW ZEALAND (Probables): Finn Allen, Devon Conway (wk), Josh Clarkson, Daryl Mitchell, Glenn Phillips, Mark Chapman, Adam Milne, Matt Henry, Tim Southee (c), Ish Sodhi, Ben Sears.

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