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Azhar Mahmood hints at resting Babar Azam in New Zealand T20Is

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RAWALPINDI: Pakistan cricket team’s head coach Azhar Mahmood said that captain Babar Azam could also be rested as part of the rotation policy and to refine the team’s combination.

Addressing a presser in Rawalpindi, Azhar Mahmood said that any player including Babar Azam could be rested during the five-match series, depending on the situation.

“As per policy, we will try to select the best 11 best available players for every match while keeping the conditions in mind,” he added.

To a question, Azhar Mahmood said the team’s management has not decided on the opening pair yet.

“We have not finalised who would be opening the inning. It (opening pair) could be Babar-Saim, Saim-Rizwan and even Fakhar Zaman can also open the inning,” he added.

The head coach also expressed confidence in his team’s capabilities, emphasising the squad’s robust composition and strategic preparations for their upcoming home series against New Zealand.

“The composition of our team, with its blend of experienced batters, agile fast bowlers, and versatile all-rounders, fills me with great confidence,” the coach said.

Azhar Mahmood was of the view that the return of experienced players like all-rounder Imad Wasim and fast bowler Mohammad Amir boosted the team. “Their comeback will undoubtedly bolster our team’s strength,” he stated.

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To a question, he regarded the New Zealand team players as future stars while dismissing the impression of “B Team” sent to play against Pakistan.

“The date indicates that they have a great deal of domestic cricket experience. They are their finest player, and no team is weak in T20s. This is the New Zealand team, and they are playing Pakistan,” Azhar Mahmood added.

The head coach said that fast bowler Shaheen Afridi is completely fit and available for the series starting from April 18.

Pakistan squad

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

Reserves: Haseebullah, Mohammad Ali, Agha Salman, Sahibzada Farhan, Mohammad Wasim Jr.

New Zealand squad

Michael Bracewell (c), Mark Chapman, Josh Clarkson, Jacob Duffy, Dean Foxcroft, Ben Lister, Cole McConchie, Jimmy Neesham, Will O’Rourke, Tim Robinson, Ben Sears, Tim Seifert (WK), Ish Sodhi, Tom Blundell, Zak Foulkes.

Pakistan vs New Zealand T20I series schedule

April 18 — 1st T20I, Rawalpindi

April 20 — 2nd T20I, Rawalpindi

April 21 — 3rd T20I, Rawalpindi

April 25 — 4th T20I, Lahore

April 27 — 5th T20I, Lahore

READ: Trophy for Pakistan-West Indies ODI series unveiled

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