Uncapped leg-spinner Zahid Mehmood has been named in Pakistan’s XII for the Rawalpindi ODI against New Zealand, scheduled on September 17. Mahmood has been in fine nick in Pakistan’s domestic circuit, having picked 52 wickets in 10 matches in Quaid-e-Azam Trophy and 19 wickets in as many Pakistan Cup fixtures.
Pakistan, who last played 50-over cricket against England away and suffered a 0-3 clean-sweep earlier this year, will play three ODIs against New Zealand in Rawalpindi before playing five T20Is in Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium. Visitors New Zealand are fresh from a 2-3 loss in an away T20I series against Bangladesh – their first series loss against the opposition in history.
New Zealand, who are on their first Pakistan tour since 2003, touched down the venue in two batches on Saturday and Sunday and are currently in an Islamabad facility in a bio-secure environment. The series clash with the resuming leg of the Indian Premier League in UAE means that as many as eight first-choice players – Kane Williamson, Kyle Jamieson, Tim Seifert, James Neesham, Trent Boult, Adam Milne, Mitchell Santner, and Lockie Ferguson – are missing from New Zealand ranks.
Meanwhile, the PCB has obtained National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) approval for having crowds inside the stadium. As a result, approximately 4,500 spectators will be able to attend the ODIs, while approximately 5,500 spectators will be able to attend the T20Is scheduled on September 25, 26, 29, and October 1 and 3.
As for the ODIs, the series has been stripped of its ICC ODI World Cup Super League status due to the non-availability of the Decision Review System (DRS) and will be therefore played as a standalone bilateral event. Currently, having played nine ODI Super League fixtures, Pakistan finds itself at the sixth spot with 40 points as opposed to New Zealand, who are placed 10th with 30 points in three fixtures.
Meanwhile, Pakistan also has an overhauled coaching setup, with interim coaches Saqlain Mushtaq and Abdul Razzaq replacing Misbah-ul-Haq and Waqar Younis, who resigned the day PCB announced Pakistan’s 15-member T20 World Cup squad.
Pakistan XII for first New Zealand ODI: Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan (vice-captain), Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Rizwan (wicketkeeper), Saud Shakil, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Usman Qadir, Zahid Mahmood