Pakistan and New Zealand dedicated to play T20 trophy in memory of Australian batsman Phillip Hughes who died last week.
The first Twenty20 international between Pakistan and New Zealand will be played today (Thursday) in Dubai. The match will start at 9:00 PM PST. Pakistan are boosted by the return of paceman Umar Gul, who has not played international cricket since April due to a knee problem. Umar Gul is the second highest wicket-taker in Twenty20 with 80 in 56 matches, five behind Ajmal’s 85. He famously took 5-6 in a World Twenty20 group match against New Zealand at The Oval when Pakistan won the title in 2009.
That prompted captain Mohammad Hafeez to step down, giving the responsibility to all-rounder Afridi for a second stint.
But Afridi’s return as captain wasn’t auspicious as Pakistan lost the only Twenty20 against Australia in Dubai in October by six wickets.
Afridi said Pakistan will not underestimate New Zealand who are without their dashing skipper Brendon McCullum who, along with pacemen Tim Southee and Trent Boult, have returned to New Zealand to prepare for the upcoming home series against Sri Lanka.
Pakistan Team: (possible) 1 Ahmed Shehzad, 2 Awais Zia, 3 Mohammad Hafeez, 4 Saad Nasim, 5 Umar Akmal, 6 Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), 7 Shahid Afridi (capt), 8 Anwar Ali/Umar Gul, 9 Wahab Riaz, 10 Raza Hasan, 11 Mohammad Irfan
The last time New Zealand played a T20 game was during their tour of the West Indies, where they didn’t name a separate squad and simply made do with their Test players. It’s hard to tell what combination they are likely to go with in Dubai, therefore, and it will be interesting to see if they persist with James Neesham at the top of the order.
New Zealand Team: (possible) 1 Kane Williamson (capt), 2 James Neesham, 3 Martin Guptill, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Corey Anderson, 6 Luke Ronchi (wk), 7 Daniel Vettori, 8 Nathan McCullum, 9 Kyle Mills, 10 Mitchell McClenaghan, 11 Adam Milne