DUBAI – The first Twenty20 international between Pakistan and New Zealand will be played today (Thursday) in Dubai. The match will start at 9:00pm PST.
Pakistan team boosted by the return of paceman Umar Gul, who has not played international cricket since April due to a knee problem. Gul is the second highest wicket-taker in Twenty20 with 80 in 56 games, five behind Saed Ajmal s 85. He famously took 5-6 in a World Twenty20 group match against New Zealand at The Oval when Pakistan won the title in 2009.
Pakistan will hope their pace attack, which also includes the lanky 7ft, 1 inch (2.1m) Mohammad Irfan supplement the bowling attack which has spinners in Raza Hasan and Shahid Afridi.
Pakistan had a miserable World Twenty20 in Bangladesh where they failed to reach the last four for the first time in five editions of the tournament. That prompted captain Mohammad Hafeez to step down, giving the responsibility to all-rounder Afridi for a second stint. But Afridi s return as captain wasn t auspicious as Pakistan lost the only Twenty20 against Australia in Dubai in October by six wickets.
Afridi said Pakistan will not underestimate New Zealand who are without their dashing skipper Brendon McCullum who, along with pacemen Tim Southee and Trent Boult, have returned to New Zealand to prepare for the upcoming home series against Sri Lanka.
“New Zealand are a dangerous limited over side and we will not underestimate them,” said Afridi. “We have to be at out best to beat them.” McCullum smashed a brilliant 202 to help New Zealand win the third and final Test in Sharjah on Sunday in the series-levelling win.
Kane Williamson, who has led New Zealand in three one-day matches and two Twenty20s will lead the Black Caps while Ross Taylor, fast bowler Adam Milne and batting all-rounder Anton Devcich return to the squad.
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