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Focus on Babar as hosts attempt to tame New Zealand

KARACHI: The upcoming white-ball series against New Zealand, which begins later this week in Lahore, is not a significant home assignment for Pakistan. However, recent speculations surrounding Babar Azam indicate that it will be a critical assignment for Pakistan’s captain.

Babar is by far Pakistan’s most prolific batsman, but his role as the country’s all-round captain has come under scrutiny. Recently, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Najam Sethi attempted to downplay the speculations but stopped short of fully supporting Babar.

Babar must be fully aware that he must ensure that his team performs admirably and wins both the ODI and T20I matches against the visiting New Zealand team. For the series, he will have a full-strength squad, including comeback pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi. In contrast to the series against Afghanistan, which Pakistan lost despite fielding a second-string team, Babar will have no excises.

Our Lahore correspondent adds: The New Zealand cricket team, led by Tom Latham, arrived in Pakistan on Tuesday to play five ODIs and as many T20Is. The team arrived at Lahore airport and was escorted to the hotel under strict security measures. They will begin practicing on Thursday (tomorrow).

T20Is will be played in Lahore (April 14, 15, 17) and Rawalpindi (April 20, 24), while ODIs will be played in Rawalpindi (April 27, 29) and Karachi (April 30). (May 3, 5, 7). After arriving in Pakistan, New Zealand all-rounder Daryl Mitchell expressed his excitement about playing T20 and ODI series in Pakistan.

“There are some young players on the team who have never played in these conditions,” he explained. The player described the Pakistan tour as “challenging,” adding that Pakistan has a world-class team.

Young players will acquire experience here since the circumstances are very different from New Zealand, he said. The series is lengthy. We’re going to give it our best shot. Tom Blundell, Chad Bowes, Matt Henry, Ben Lister, Cole McConchie, Adam Milne, Daryl Mitchell, Jimmy Neesham, Henry Nicholls, Rachin Ravindra, Henry Shipley, Ish Sodhi, Blair Tickner, and Will Young make up the New Zealand ODI team. Tom Latham serves as captain.

Tom Latham (wk, c), Chad Bowes, Mark Chapman, Ben Lister, Adam Milne, Cole McConchie, Daryl Mitchell, Jimmy Neesham, Rachin Ravindra, Henry Shipley, Ish Sodhi, Blair Tickner, and Will Young make up the New Zealand T20Issquad.

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