LAHORE: Pakistan is all set to kick off the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup preparations with ODI series against New Zealand starting from Monday (today).

It is the year of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup and Pakistan are scheduled to play at least 11 One-Day Internationals and the ACC Asia Cup before the mega event. They were locked on points with eventual runners-up New Zealand in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 at the end of the round robin but could not go through the last four because of a lower net run-rate. The Babar Azam-captained side would want to better that in the 2023 edition and that they have had a good form in 50-over cricket augurs well.

Pakistan have won all three series they played in 2022 against Australia, the West Indies and the Netherlands. They whitewashed the last two oppositions in Multan and Rotterdam, winning eight straight matches.

Their first ODI assignment is against the Kiwis from Monday (today) as they play them in three matches, which are part of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League. Though Pakistan are ranked sixth and New Zealand the second on the 13-team points table from which top seven sides and India secure automatic qualification, they are separated by only 10 points. With top-ranked India at 139 points, if Pakistan are able to stretch their red-hot form with a series-cleaning streak and beat New Zealand 3-0, in what is their final series of the cycle, they would summit the table.

Babar Azam said: “It is the year of World Cup and we start our preparations for the tournament with this series. We are in good form in 50-over cricket and we want to ensure that we stretch it into 2023. Our ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League did not begin as per the expectations but it was the team’s never-say-die attitude that has seen us to eight consecutive wins and a near-excellent ODI record in 2022. The conditions in India are going to be much similar to Pakistan so this is the right platform for us to test different combinations and see what clicks and what does not. I am sure the boys – at individual and collective levels – are raring to go and they will click as a unit.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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