After 18 years, New Zealand will play first ODI on Pakistani soil today

Lahore (NUT-DESK)

Pakistan are all set to host New Zealand for a three-match one-day international series after a gap of 18 years, as the two teams finally square off today at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium.

The tourists will play their first match on Pakistani soil since 2003, with  today’s matchset to be the fourth encounter between the two sides at the Rawalpindi stadium, with Pakistan having a 3-0 edge over the Black Caps.

The two sides last faced off in 2019 during the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup in Birmingham where Babar Azam guided his side to a six-wicket victory with a heroic century.

New Zealand, the top-ranked ODI team in the ICC Rankings and the 2019 World Cup finalists, will take to the stadium today with the confidence of a 3-0 sweep against Bangladesh in March. The Kiwis will be looking to continue their winning streak.

Pakistan captain Babar Azam expressed his excitement over the series taking place between the two sides in Pakistan after over a decade-and-a-half.

“Finally, the day has arrived and our entire camp is very excited to play New Zealand at home. We have practiced hard for this series and I am sure we will take full advantage of our home conditions,” said Babar in his pre-series media conference held online.

“We have a balanced squad and I remain optimistic about our chances in what promises to be an exciting series. I am sure fans at the stadium and millions watching us on screens will enjoy these matches.”

New Zealand captain Tom Latham reciprocated Babar Azam’s excitement.

“We know it is special for Pakistan to have cricket in their country and we are excited to be here. Pakistan are a quality side and they have some talented white-ball players in their line-up,” said Tom.

“We have the desired fire-power in our ranks to win this series and I am sure our batters and bowlers will rise to the occasion and make this historic series memorable for us.”