Pakistan have a tough task at hand as they face an in-form New Zealand side in the first T20 match at Eden park in Auckland on Friday. New Zealand, who defeated Sri Lanka in their last T20 series, will be high on confidence and if the Pakistan team play below par cricket, expect the Black Caps to dominate the men in green.
New Zealand, who are a strong team at home, know the conditions at the back of their hands and will be keen to put on a show for the crowd in Auckland as they are also expected to pour out in numbers.
"New Zealand are playing wonderful cricket at the moment," ESPN Cricinfo quoted Pakistan batsman Ahmed Shehzad as saying. "We all know the style they playing with is awesome to see. We have to match them. We have to compete."
Martin Guptill, who has been one of the most consistent performers for New Zealand in the T20 format of late, will hold the key as he can tear apart Pakistan bowlers, who will be keen to take his wicket early. Apart from Guptill, New Zealand also have the services of Colin Munro, who is another lethal striker of a cricket ball.
They have a fierce bowling line up as well with Adam Milne and Trent Boult spearheading the bowling attack. Irrespective of whether New Zealand players are batting, bowling or fielding, there is an element of no fear approach in their game, which has seen them become a top side in world cricket.
"They're playing without any fear. There's no issues with their places. They're shuffling their players. Now they have a good bunch which is doing their job together. If any side is playing good cricket we have to appreciate that and try to match them," said Shehzad.
With the visitors being aware of the need to up their game while facing New Zealand, Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi needs to lead the team from the front with some quality performance with the ball primarily. There is no short of quality players in their line up with cricketers like Shehzad, Umar Gul, Mohammad Hafeez among others as well.
Eden Park is a small ground and boundaries may be easy to come, which could also lead to their downfall. Shehzad is aware of it.
"We have to pick and choose our balls," Shehzad said. "Sometimes you play some rash shots when looking at the stadium and all these things, and you lose your wickets.. You can't be rash, or lose your wicket and let your team down. The boundaries at the side aren't very big either, but we have to play proper cricket."
The match also marks the return of Mohammad Amir, who will make an international comeback as he was out of the game for five years after found guilty in the 2010 spot-fixing case.
Where to watch live
New Zealand vs Pakistan 1st T20 is schedule for a 7pm local time (11:30 IST, 6 am GMT, 1am ET) start.
New Zealand viewers can watch the New Zealand vs Pakistan 1st T20 live on Sky Sport Network.
PTV Sports will show the New Zealand vs Pakistan 1st T20 live in Pakistan and the can also be viewed online on PTV Sports Live.