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Pakistan will be aiming for victory in the weather-threatening 2nd T20I against New Zealand

Lahore – Pakistan are set to clash with New Zealand in the second T20 International at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium on Saturday at 7pm. After a damp spell in the series opener, where rain allowed just two deliveries, both teams are optimistic of a full encounter despite ongoing concerns over the weather.

Led by Babar Azam, Pakistan’s top order is likely to see Saim Ayub open alongside the captain. Mohammad Rizwan will continue in his role at number three, with his reliable striking ability coming to the fore. The middle order looks robust with the addition of Usman Khan and Muhammad Irfan Khan, who combine stability with aggressive batting. The all-round skills of Iftikhar Ahmed and Shadab Khan will increase the team’s flexibility and provide valuable options with both bat and ball. Pakistan’s bowling attack will be led by the pace trio of Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah and a rejuvenated Mohammad Amir, marking his remarkable return to international cricket after a four-year hiatus. In the spin department, there will be Abrar Ahmed, whose variations could be crucial against the Kiwi batsmen.

Despite the cancellation of their pre-match training session due to bad weather, New Zealand, led by Michael Bracewell, remain ready to tackle the challenges of a strong Pakistan side. The squad is made up of experienced campaigners like Jimmy Neesham and promising talents like Tim Seifert, ensuring a mix of youth and experience in their ranks.

Weather and match forecasts

While the forecast suggests a possibility of rain, both teams and fans are hopeful that weather disruptions will be minimal, allowing for an uninterrupted match. The stakes are high as both teams look to gain an early lead in this five-match T20 series.

Amir’s comeback and expectations

Mohammad Amir’s return was one of the focal points in the run-up to the match. In a recent statement, Amir said: “Playing for your country again after almost four years feels completely surreal. It’s like making my debut again,” Amir noted.

He acknowledged the PCB and Shaheen Shah Afridi for their pivotal role in his return to international cricket. “I am indebted to the PCB, the team management and Shaheen for their confidence in me, which obviously comes with significant pressure to live up to their expectations,” he added. Reflecting on his illustrious career, Amir recalled his debut year in 2009, which coincided with Pakistan’s T20 World Cup win, and victorious 2017 Champions Trophy campaign. “The PCB and team management re-appointed me with a specific short-term goal in mind: the upcoming World Cup. Since Pakistan reached the semi-finals in 2021 and the final in 2022, the ultimate goal is to win the title. Achieving this would be a monumental achievement for me, which would cement my role in helping the team ultimately cross the finish line,” concludes Amir.

SQUADS

PAKISTAN: Babar Azam (captain), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Saim Ayub, Usman Khan, Iftikhar Ahmed, Azam Khan (wk), Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah, Mohammad Amir, Abbas Afridi, Abrar Ahmed, Fakhar Zaman, Irfan Khan Niazi, Usama Mir, Zaman Khan.
NEW ZEALAND: Michael Bracewell (captain), Tom Blundell, Mark Chapman, Josh Clarkson, Jacob Duffy, Dean Foxcroft, Ben Lister, Cole McConchie, Jimmy Neesham, Will O’Rourke, Tim Robinson, Ben Sears, Tim Seifert, Ish Sodhi , Zak Foulkes.