NZ vs PAK: T20I series – 5 players to watch out for

New Zealand are set to host Pakistan in a five-match T20I series this month. The first T20I takes place in Auckland on Friday, January 12. Ahead of the series, let’s take a look at five players who could be key to their team’s chances.

5. Daryl Mitchell

The Hamilton-born averages over 52 in both Tests and ODIs. However, in the T20I format, he has an average of just 24.49 and a strike rate of 133.90. In the three innings he played against Bangladesh, Mitchell managed just 33 runs. However, there is no doubt about his quality and one good knock could change things for him.

4. Kane Williamson

All eyes will be on the New Zealand skipper as he will be returning to action for the first time since the ODI World Cup 2023. He missed the majority of the marquee event due to injuries but will now look to shift his focus to this year’s T20 World Cup in June. Williamson has played 87 T20Is for the Kiwis and scored 2,464 runs, at an average of 33.30 and a strike rate of 122.89. He will look to play the role of a sheet anchor while others will bat around him.

3. Shaheen Afridi

The new Pakistan T20I skipper will hope to lead from the front. This is his first assignment as captain and he would like to start on a high. Afridi will have to play a crucial role with the new ball for the Asian giants. In 52 T20Is, the 23-year-old has picked up 64 wickets, at an average of 22.73 and an economy rate of 7.64.

2. Devon Conway

The left-handed batter returns to the side after being rested for the recent T20I series against Bangladesh. Conway is one of the most reliable players for New Zealand across formats. He has scored 1,248 runs from 38 T20I innings, at an average of 41.60 and a strike rate of 129.06. The 32-year-old is equally good against pace and spin and that is why he is very difficult to contain when he is in full flow.

1. Mohammad Rizwan

There are very few players in world cricket who are as consistent in T20I cricket as Mohammad Rizwan. The wicketkeeper-batter has been given added responsibility in this series as he has been named as Afridi’s deputy. Rizwan has a staggering average of 49.07 in T20I cricket. His strike rate of 127.31 might not look ominous but it is quite acceptable considering the role he plays in the team.