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Babar Azam spills the beans about team combination for New Zealand T20Is

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RAWALPINDI: Pakistan’s white-ball captain Babar Azam on Wednesday, opened up about the potency of trying different team combinations against an inexperienced New Zealand side during the five-match T20I series.

Babar interacted with the media here on the eve of Pakistan’s crucial home series, leading to this year’s T20 World Cup in the United States of America (USA) and the West Indies.

To a question regarding the opening pair for the New Zealand T20Is, Babar remained tight-lipped but revealed that there will be an almost different combination in each of the five matches.

“I think, there’s flexibility for everyone and we’ll try to give opportunities to the youngsters and test our bench strength.

“And, you’ll see a different combination in almost every match. We’ll try to check where we stand by going with different combinations, be it in batting or bowling.

Babar then went on to reveal that the national team’s ideal combination would be finalized by the upcoming away T20I series against Ireland and England.

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In response to a question regarding Pakistan’s long-standing middle-order woes, Babar Azam claimed that the inclusion of youngsters like Azam Khan and Muhammad Irfan Khan Naizi would give more depth to the team’s batting unit.

“We definitely pondered about this and thus included youngsters like Usman Khan, Irfan Niazi and Azam Khan to address the spots on which we were lacking in the past and obviously, we already had Iftikhar in the mix.

“We tried to strengthen that and after that, we have Shadab and Imad. So, in this way, our batting is getting more stronger.

“So, if we go with whatever combination, our batting [depth] goes till the eighth number and yet we would be left with Naseem Shah and Shaheen Shah.”

It is worth mentioning here that Rawalpindi’s Pindi Cricket Stadium will host the opening three T20Is between Pakistan and New Zealand on 18, 20 and 21 April before action shifts to Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium where the last two matches will be played on 25 and 27 April.

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.

READ: PCB unveils commentary panel for Pakistan-New Zealand T20Is

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