Shahid Afridi Fawad Alam Pakistan
Pakistan will look to make a winning start against New ZealandReuters

It is a bit strange and maybe even a little pointless to play a couple of T20 international matches when everybody is focussed on the ICC 50-over World Cup which begins in about two months.

However, both Pakistan and New Zealand will hope something good and positive comes out of playing these two T20Is, starting with the first one in Dubai on Thursday.

The Test series between the two teams was drawn after New Zealand fought back brilliantly to top Pakistan in the final Test, and the Black Caps will look to take the confidence from that victory into the limited-overs series (yes, there are ODIs as well, five of them, following the two-match T20I series).

"Any time you represent your country is an honour and a privilege and deserves the respect of the match that's played so there's very much a focus going into these T20 games," New Zealand captain Kane Williamson said.

"But there's that World Cup in the back of everyone's minds and one day cricket is a priority for most teams.

"Although it's a change in format it's also still cricket and there's still a lot to gain from these two T20's going into the one-day series."

Both teams have quite a few fresh faces, and maybe some of them will grasp the opportunity and put themselves in contention for a place in the World Cup squad.

"There are a lot of new faces and a lot of fresh faces so all the guys are looking forward to the games coming up," Williamson said.

It is impossible to look at cricket at the moment without thinking of Phil Hughes, whose funeral was held on Wednesday, and Pakistan and New Zealand added a classy touch to the T20 series, by dedicating the trophy to Hughes.

"There's perhaps little bits of closure with the funeral and it's still reasonably fresh and still thinking of those bits and pieces, but at the same time looking forward to the cricket coming up," Williamson said.

Pakistan are always a dangerous side in any limited-overs format, and a lot of the focus will be on Umar Akmal, who has been struggling for form of late. Pakistan need a fit and firing Akmal leading up to the World Cup, because one feels the mercurial right-hander will need to play a key role if they are to have a crack at winning the coveted title.

"[Pakistan] have shown time and time again that in this part of the world they're certainly a force in all formats so it will be an exciting one-day competition," added Williamson.

Where to Watch Live

The 1st T20I is scheduled to begin at 8 pm local time (9.30 pm IST, 9 pm PST, 4 pm GMT) with live coverage in India on Ten Cricket and Ten HD and Pakistan on Ten Sports and PTV Sports.

The match can be watched via live streaming in India on Ten Sports Live, while Pakistan viewers can catch the action on the same website or PTV Sports Live.

Watch the game in the USA on Willow TV, while the option is also there to live stream the action on Willow TV Online. Viewers in Africa can catch all the action on SuperSport or SuperSport online, while audience in the Middle East can watch the match on Ten Cricket UAE.

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