PAK vs IRE: Pakistan's Strongest playing against Ireland for the first T20I

PAK vs NZ 4th T20I: In what promises to be a really entertaining and compelling encounter, Pakistan led by Babar Azam are set to take on Michael Bracewell led New Zealand in the fourth T20 International match of the five match series at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium. The match will take place on 25th April and it will commence at 8:00pm IST.

In the previous encounter, Kiwi batter Mark Chapman played an unbeaten knock of 87 runs and led a second string New Zealand team to a shocking victory by seven wickets against Pakistan in the third T20i in Rawalpindi on Sunday. The Southpaw scored 87 runs in just 42 balls and helped his side chase the target of 179 runs in 18.2 overs against a really good Pakistan bowling unit, silencing a packed crowd of 16,000 at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium. Skipper Babar Azam (37 runs) and Shadab Khan (41 runs) helped the home side post a total of 178-4 on the board but the Shaheens bowling unit failed to defend the score as Kiwis leveled the five match series 1-1.

The fourth and the penultimate T20i will take place at Lahore and both the teams will be looking to showcase their best possible performance in the fourth game and head into the fifth T20i on a winning note.

The penultimate game will be particularly more important for the Men in Green as this series against New Zealand is acting as preparatory ground for the 2024 T20 World Cup and the best performers will be chosen in the squad for this year’s mega event.

Talking about the playing 11 of the home side, some changes have to be made if the Babar Azam led team want to win the fourth T20i.

Pakistan’s Strongest playing 11 for the 4th T20I against New Zealand

Openers – Babar Azam (Captain) and Saim Ayub

Babar Azam Captain and Saim Ayub
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The duo of skipper Babar Azam and Saim Ayub are expected to continue opening the inning for the Shaheens in the fourth match as well. Both of them played really good innings against the visitors in the 3rd T20i and even got involved in a partnership of 55 runs in 38 balls for the opening wicket. The opening duo have played many match winning innings together for Peshawar Zalmi in the PSL and expect them to do the same for the National Team as well.

Middle Order- Fakhar Zaman, Haseebullah Khan (WK) and Irfan Khan Niazi

Fakhar Zaman didn’t get a chance to play in the first two games of the series but he is anticipated to play in the penultimate T20i in place of Usman Khan. Usman has failed to replicate his PSL 2024 form in International Cricket for the Men in Green. In the 2nd T20i, the 28 year old managed to score just seven runs in six balls as Ish Sodhi clean bowled him with a beautiful delivery. In the third match, Usman scored just five runs in seven balls and got dismissed once off the bowling of Ish Sodhi. Fakhar didn’t play in the first two games in order to give Usman a chance to prove his worth but after seeing his poor performances with the bat, the team management will be tempted to include Fakhar instead of Usman in the playing 11.

Mohammad Rizwan got injured while batting in the third T20i against the Kiwis and the injury forced him to retire hurt. Haseebullah Khan was recently included in the squad for the New Zealand series as an injury replacement for Azam Khan and post the injury of Rizwan, the 21 year old Haseebullah is expected to replace Rizwan in the playing 11 and don the gloves against the Kiwis. He made his T20i debut earlier this year in January against New Zealand but didn’t get a chance to bat. In domestic T20 Cricket, the Peshawar Zalmi batter has scored 481 runs in 28 games at a not so impressive strike rate of 122.08. But he has the potential to succeed at the highest level of the game and it remains to be seen how well he performs in the fourth game if he gets selected.

Irfan Khan Niazi will come out to bat at number five and he has had a good start to his T20 International career having scored 18*runs and 30 runs in the second and the third T20i’s respectively. He is known for his hard hitting abilities and he would like to play yet another useful knock for his side in the penultimate T20i against the Kiwis.

All Rounders- Iftikhar Ahmed and Shadab Khan

Iftikhar Ahmed and Shadab Khan
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The duo of Shadab Khan and Iftikhar Ahmed are anticipated to handle the All – Rounder department yet again for the fourth T20i against the Kiwis. Shadab Khan has had a decent series so far picking up two wickets in two games and even played a crucial knock of 41 runs in 20 balls at a strike rate of 205.00. The 25 year old will be crucial in the home side’s hopes of winning the five match series against New Zealand.

Iftikhar Ahmed on the other hand hasn’t received any chance so far to prove his worth to his side in the current series. He didn’t get a chance to bat in the previous two games but he got a chance to bowl in the last game but he failed to do much with the ball as he gave away 16 runs in his two overs and failed to pick up a wicket. However, Iftikhar is a really good player and will be anticipated to play a key role with both the bat and the ball in the penultimate T20i.

Bowlers – Mohammad Amir, Abrar Ahmed, Naseem Shah and Abbas Afridi.

Mohammad Amir, Abrar Ahmed, Naseem Shah and Abbas Afridi.
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Shaheen Shah Afridi didn’t have a good game with the bowl in the third T20i as he gave away 37 runs in 3.2 overs without picking up a wicket at an economy rate of 11.10. The team management will be looking to give some rest to Afridi for the fourth game and bring in Mohammad Amir in his place. Amir took two wickets in the second T20i but he was benched in favor of Abbas Afridi. He is anticipated to play in the next game and the 30 year old would be looking to once again play a key role and help his side win the fourth T20i.

Abrar Ahmed will be handling the spin bowling duties alongside Shadab Khan. He picked up two wickets in the second T20i but didn’t get a chance to bowl in the third game. Captain Babar will be looking towards Abrar to get those crucial breakthroughs with the ball in the penultimate game of the series.

Naseem Shah made his much awaited return from injury recently and while he has picked up two wickets in three games so far, his economy has been a point of concern and he would like to bowl economically in the fourth match of the series.

Abbas Afridi was given a chance to play in place of Mohammad Amir in the previous game and he impressed with the bowl as he picked up two scalps in three overs. He is in good form and would like to trouble the Kiwi batters once again with the ball and his wicket taking abilities.

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