Pakistan prepare for T20 World Cup with New Zealand challenge

Rawalpindi, Apr 18 (UNI) Babar Azam was confident of Pakistan shaping up well for the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024.

Babar, who was reappointed as the white-ball skipper, is set to lead Pakistan for the third time at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.

But ahead of the big challenge, Pakistan are set to face New Zealand in a crucial home series starting on Thursday.

“This five-match T20I series holds a lot of importance for us as we look forward to preparing for the all-important mega event T20 World Cup,” Babar said in the pre-series press conference.

“We will ensure to get our preparations done with great vigour. We have 12 matches prior to the T20 World Cup,” he said.

“We had a great fitness camp in Kakul and are looking forward to expressing ourselves as a unit,” Babar said.

While the skipper hinted that Pakistan’s squad for the mega event would more or less involve the same group of players, he stressed that no one is assured of a place in the side, an ICC report said.

Pakistan also play Ireland and England following the New Zealand series ahead of the T20 World Cup.

“Right now, our focus is on the New Zealand series but the World Cup squad will almost consist of the same players. You never know what happens next, because there is a lot of time for it,” Babar said.

“We would have days even after announcing the squad for the World Cup. No one is 100% sure to make the squad, we will try to make sure that the best team is selected,” he said

Stating that the team had a good blend of youth and experience, Babar expressed that he was happy to see new faces in the squad.

“I am very happy when I see a new player getting selected for Pakistan Cricket Team on the basis of domestic performance,” he said.

“So all the youngsters that come, we try to keep them in our wings. Because in international, whenever you come, you struggle a little. You need a little backing. It helps to have a senior player who can give you a little backing,” Babar said.

“And we always support all the senior players. We support them in everything,” he said.

The Pakistan captain refused to reveal details on where he would bat in the series. He has moved down to No.3 in T20Is of late, but did not rule out the possibility of going back up the order in the upcoming New Zealand series.

Meanwhile, New Zealand stand-in skipper Michael Bracewell said that the visitors were confident of challenging Pakistan despite the absence of some big names.

“I think there was a few guys missing last year from this series when New Zealand played Pakistan this time last year,” Bracewell said.

“And I think that series showed that we can compete against these guys. I think this will be a great challenge for us, coming in here and getting our feet on the ground pretty quickly and getting used to the conditions here in Pakistan,” he said.

The five-game series kicks off in Rawalpindi on April 18.

Pakistan squad: Babar Azam (c), Abrar Ahmed, Azam Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Abbas Afridi, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Amir, Irfan Khan, Naseem Shah, Saim Ayub, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Usama Mir, Usman Khan, Zaman Khan.

New Zealand squad: Michael Bracewell (c), 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.

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