Sarfraz Ahmed’s men have not had the best of starts to 2018 after a sensational run last year where they stunned India to lift the ICC Champions Trophy in England.
Kane Williamson’s men on the other hand have kicked off 2018 in perfect fashion and will fancy themselves once again in the shortest format of the game against the subcontinent visitors.
We look at the key talking points ahead of the first T20I.
PAKISTAN LOOK TO END THEIR KIWI JINX
Since beating New Zealand in the first T20I at Eden Park in 2016, Pakistan have endured a dismal run against the opposition. They have lost 12 matches across all formats since that win culminating in the 5-0 thrashing in the ODI series.
The momentum lies with the Black Caps currently but as with any Pakistan side over the years, you never know what you will get on the day as they range from the sublime to the ridiculous. Breaking this stronghold that the Kiwis have on them will be the first thing on their mind when they line up at the Westpac stadium on Monday.
BLACKCAPS FRESHEN UP SQUAD FOR T20Is
While they were unstoppable in the ODIs, the Kiwis have rested some of their big guns in the form of Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson for the first T20 as they look to keep things fresh.
Into the side come the likes the Ish Sodhi, Ben Wheeler, Glenn Phillips and Tom Bruce, all in great form when it comes to the 20-over game. They have been performing well in the domestic Super Smash T20 competition and will be looking to continue that form in the series against Pakistan.
Sodhi in particular has been a revelation in the limited-overs format and his bowling will be key for New Zealand in the three-match series.
IN-FORM AHMED SHEHZAD RETURNS FOR PAKISTAN
Pakistan suffered a big blow before the series has even started after stalwart Shoaib Malik was ruled out for all three matches. Malik showed signs of delayed concussion after getting hit by a Colin Munro throw in the fourth ODI and has returned home to recuperate.
However, the visitors will be buoyed to have Ahmed Shehzad back for the T20Is. The right-handed batsman has been going through a purple patch in the format with two fifties in his last six appearances.
He will open the innings with Fakhar Zaman and together, the two will be hoping to get Pakistan off to a great start.
TUSSLE FOR THE NO.1 SPOT
The series will see a battle between the No.1 and No.2 ranked T20I sides in the world and as such, plenty will be at stake.
Just two points separate second-place Pakistan from the top-ranked Kiwis and they will be hoping to secure a series victory to leapfrog them in the standings.
Pakistan have won their last five bilateral T20I series while the hosts are fresh from their 2-0 victory over the World Twenty20 champions West Indies.
IPL BONANZA ON THE CARDS FOR KIWIS
In less than a week, the hugely-anticipated Indian Premier League (IPL) auction is set to get underway. While Pakistan’s players will not be in contention, it will be very keenly followed by those in the New Zealand side.
The likes of Kane Williamson, Colin Munro, Ross Taylor, Ish Sodhi, Martin Guptill, Mitchell Santner and Glenn Phillips will be all hoping to catch the eye of the franchises with their performances having thrown their hat into the auction ring.
The Kiwis have always been a huge draw at the IPL and with some really exciting T20 talent at their disposal, they sure will be looking to make a big splash this time around too.
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