1st ODI: Pakistan gear up to take on New Zealand at home after 18 years

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Rawalpindi [Pakistan], September 16 (ANI): History will be made on Friday when Babar Azam's Pakistan take on Tom Latham's New Zealand in the first of the three One-Day Internationals at the Pindi Cricket Stadium. The occasion will see the tourists play their first match on Pakistan soil since 2003.

This will be the fourth time the two sides will meet at the Pindi Cricket Stadium in an ODI with Pakistan enjoying a 3-0 advantage. Prior to this match, Pakistan and New Zealand have met 19 times in an ODI in Pakistan between 1976 and 2003 with Pakistan winning 16 times, a PCB release stated.

Pakistan and New Zealand last met in an international 50-over competition during the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019 when Babar Azam's glorious century anchored his side to a fabulous six-wicket win at Birmingham.

This series provides an opportunity for sixth-ranked Pakistan to climb a spot in the ICC Rankings. If the hosts beat the tourists by a 3-0 scoreline, they would jump to the fifth position, however, any other result will see both sides retain their pre-series rankings.

The series will not be part of the ICC World Cup Super League as both the PCB and NZC have mutually agreed to swap the status of this series with the one taking place in the 2022-23 season. This means the ODI series in the 2022-23 season will count towards the World Cup 2023 qualification while the series commencing on Friday will be a bilateral fixture in which team and player ranking points will be up for grabs.

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

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

"We have 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." (ANI)

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