ANI Photo | Full-strength Pakistan to take on New Zealand at home in 1st T20I

Pakistan and New Zealand are set to lock horns in a five-match T20I series, starting with the first game in Lahore on Friday.
During the time when the world of cricket is taken over by Indian Premier League (IPL) fever, the New Zealand tour of Pakistan — comprising five T20Is and as many ODIs — promises some riveting international action.
Pakistan have named a star-studded T20I squad, bolstered by the return of Shaheen Afridi, who will play for the first time since the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Final against England in November 2022.
Though he returned to international cricket after a four-month absence, Shaheen Afridi has been busy collecting silverware and breaking records in Pakistan. During the most recent Pakistan Super League, the ace pacer captained Lahore Qalandars to victory, making him the first captain to win the PSL twice.
Skipper Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Fakhar Zaman, and Haris Rauf are also back in the squad after missing the Afghanistan T20I series in Sharjah. Pakistan will be relieved to see their star T20I players back in action after they were sorely missed in their 2-1 loss to Afghanistan.

New Zealand faces a significant challenge. They will not only be playing T20Is in Pakistan for the first time, but they will also be missing several key players, including regular skipper Kane Williamson.
With numerous players currently involved in IPL, the inexperienced Black Caps will be led by Tom Latham. They can, however, take heart from their performance in the ODI series against Pakistan three months ago, where they won 2-1 despite having a much stronger squad at their disposal.
The Kiwis will rely on the experience of stand-in captain Latham, Jimmy Neesham, Matt Henry, Daryl Mitchell, and Ish Sodhi to compete against a full-strength Pakistan. The presence of their newly-signed assistant coach Saqlain Mushtaq, who is well-versed in the conditions in Lahore and Rawalpindi, could be beneficial.
The squads:
Pakistan T20I squad: Babar Azam (c), Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Ihsanullah, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Haris, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Naseem Shah, Saim Ayub, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood and Zaman Khan.
New Zealand T20I squad: Tom Latham (c), Chad Bowes, Mark Chapman, Dane Cleaver, Matt Henry, Ben Lister, Adam Milne, Cole McConchie, Daryl Mitchell, Jimmy Neesham, Rachin Ravindra, Henry Shipley, Ish Sodhi, Blair Tickner and Will Young. (ANI)

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