ISLAMABAD - Boom Boom Afirdi-led Pakistan cricket team is all set to take on Black Caps in the first T20 International today (Thursday) in Dubai.

After a long time, Pakistan team has the services of ace fast bowler Umar Gul, who was previously not considered for the selection sighting fitness problems by the selectors. Pakistan team badly needed a fast bowler like Gul to strike early blows as in the third Test although Rahat Ali did manage to get a few wickets but he didn’t have the support from any other bowler, especially Talha looked completely off color and it seemed he was struggling to cope with five-day pressure, and his fitness level was not up to the mark.

Pakistan team gets the much-needed reinforcement in shape of Afirdi while Umar Akmal and especially Ahmed Shahzad was badly missed by the green caps in the second and third Tests. Ahmed was out due to injury he received after hitting in the head. Pakistan team needs special efforts to beat in-form Kiwis. Afirdi must have to lead from the front while the selectors should pick balanced and just squad, otherwise, the results will be very disappointing. Kiwis are specialist in shorter format and are more than capable of inflicting defeat on Pakistan not only at UAE but any given venue.

Pakistan team relies heavily on the shoulders of M Irfan to provide them breakthroughs using his extra height and pace, while spin bowling will most likely revolve around Raza Hasan, who will get support from the skipper and M Hafeez. The selectors have very strangely opted to pick just one specialist spinner, while picked five quick bowlers. On the dead tracks of UAE, the selectors should have at least retained Zulfiqar Babar, who could be more than handy and could provide much-needed wickets in the depth overs. Irfan and Gul are very much likely to start the first T20.

Moin is well-known to favour one certain area players. Sohail Tanvir is enjoying rich form with both willow and leather and had not only scored runs and taken wickets in Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, but also played league matches in UAE and had vast experience of playing on these surfaces, so he should be given nod of approval ahead of Anwar Ali and Wahab Riaz, who are still struggling to regain full fitness.

Pakistan team has the luxury to play with additional bowler, if Umar Akmal keeps behind wickets, but it looks highly unlikely as Sarfraz always enjoys all-out backing of Moin Khan. Sarfraz has scored a few runs in the Tests and could be used as make shift opener, but if Sarfraz was sent up the order, then where should Hafeez bat? Ahmed Shahzad will most likely then open the innings with Sarfraz. The selectors should keep in mind ground realities, as Saad Nasim, Wahab Riaz and Sarfraz should make way and Haris Sohail should be selected to bat in the middle order to provide much-needed depth.  New Zealand have included veteran Daniel Vettori, while they will be without Brandon McCullum, which can give Pakistan slight edge. Kane Williamson will lead the side in the absence of McCullum. Although Kiwis look a bit weak without the inspirational McCullum, but even then last Test victory has done wonders for their confidence and they will start the match as firm favorites.


Pakistan: Shahid Afridi (captain), Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Awais Zia, Anwar Ali, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Irfan, Raza Hasan, Saad Nasim, Sarfraz Ahmed, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Akmal, Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz.

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (captain), Corey Anderson, Dean Brownlie, Anton Devcich, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Adam Milne, James Neesham, Luke Ronchi, Ross Taylor, Daniel Vettori.