Both teams have new captains in the absence of the regulars – Mitchell Santner for NZ and Shadab Khan for Pakistan
Pakistan won the toss against New Zealand and chose to bat
Shadab Khan, Pakistan’s captain in Babar Azam’s injury-enforced absence, won the toss and opted for first strike in the first T20I against New Zealand in bright and sunny Auckland, and named a very different XI to the one that did duty in the final fixture against Zimbabwe at home in Rawalpindi last month.
Shadab himself, Mohammad Hafeez, Faheem Ashraf, Wahab Riaz and Shaheen Shah Afridi were all in the line-up for this game, replacing Fakhar Zaman, Usman Qadir, Muhammad Musa, Mohammad Hasnain and Azam.
“Looks a very good pitch, we want to put a score [on the board],” Shadab said at the toss. “We’ll miss Babar but it’s a good opportunity for the rest to step up. We’ve prepared well and now it’s show time.”
This is only the ninth time a team has opted to bat in 23 T20Is at Eden Park. Irregular though that may seem, it does track with Pakistan’s strategy. They have an excellent bowling attack, which is very good at restricting oppositions and at standing up when the pressure is at its highest. Even so, Shadab and his men will have to buck history given six of the eight previous teams that tried his trick failed to win the game.
New Zealand, of course, are without Kane Williamson, who is back home with his partner Sarah Raheem, who delivered their first child earlier this week. Mitchell Santner is their designated leader for this game, and they have a debutant in Jacob Duffy.
“We’re pretty happy to bowl,” Santner said. “Another great opportunity to lead the side. Jacob Duffy makes his debut. Todd Astle and Doug Bracewell miss out. Every time you represent your country, it’s a big deal, and he’ll take the challenge on. Pakistan are a quality side, with pace and spin and quality in the batting. We’re ready for them.”
New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Tim Seifert (wk), Devon Conway, Glenn Phillips, James Neesham, Mitchell Santner (capt), Mark Chapman, Scott Kuggeleijn, Ish Sodhi, Jacob Duffy, Blair Tickner
Pakistan: Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Abdullah Shafique, Haider Ali, Mohammad Hafeez, Shadab Khan (capt), Khushdil Shah, Imad Wasim, Faheem Ashraf, Wahab Riaz, Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf