RAWALPINDI: Pakistan skipper Babar Azam on Thursday put New Zealand to bat first after winning the toss in the opening game of the five-match ODI series played at the Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi.
Batter Haris Sohail who suffered an injury during a practice session has been excluded from the side.
Babar said the pitch will be helpful later in the day for batting while NZ captain Tom Latham endorsed Pakistan’s decision, saying they will also bowl first had they won the toss.
“Our morale is high after winning the final T20I.”
The ODI series offers both sides the opportunity to feel out each other´s strengths and weaknesses ahead of the World Cup in India in October-November.
The Black Caps shocked the home side by squaring a preceding five-match Twenty20 series 2-2 despite missing eight players — including Kane Williamson — due to the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) or injury.
Under stand-in skipper Latham, New Zealand adapted to the conditions skillfully, roaring back from 2-0 down to win the third and fifth matches, with the fourth abandoned after rain.
Middle-order batter Mark Chapman has been added to the ODI squad after blazing 290 for just one dismissal in the T20 series — the most runs by a batter in a five-match T20I series.
Wicketkeeper-batter Tom Blundell, recently included in the five best cricketers of the year by Wisden, and middle-order batter Henry Nicholls further bolster the squad.
Pakistan have won five of the seven ODI series that Azam has captained. His two losses came against England in 2021 and New Zealand in January this year.
But New Zealand boast recent dominance over Pakistan.
Of the last six ODI series between them, New Zealand have won five and drawn one. Their last series defeat against Pakistan was at home in 2011.
The other matches of the current series are in Rawalpindi on Saturday followed by Karachi on May 3, 5 and 7.
Pakistan: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam (c), Shan Masood, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Agha Salman, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf
New Zealand: Chad Bowes, Will Young, Daryl Mitchell, Tom Latham (c & wk), Mark Chapman, Henry Nicholls, Rachin Ravindra, Adam Milne, Ish Sodhi, Matt Henry, Blair Tickner