Trent Boult New Zealand Martin Guptill Ross Taylor
New Zealand are a quality side at home.Reuters

New Zealand played some superb cricket in their last T20 series against Sri Lanka, winning it 2-0. The Black Caps will be eager to continue their winning form against Pakistan, who are set to face New Zealand in a three-match T20 series, which starts in Auckland on Friday.

Pakistan, on the other hand, have to come up with a better performance if they are to defeat New Zealand, who are a strong team at home as the men in green looked below par in their last T20 series against England, who defeated Pakistan 3-0 in November last year.

With the upcoming World T20 in March in India, both the teams will be using this series to perfectly prepare for the mega event. Apart from their preparations, New Zealand and Pakistan also have a chance of moving up to number one in the ICC rankings if the series end in favour of any team, 3-0. With so much to play for one can expect some quality action during the T20 series.

There is an array of star players in both camps, which makes matters even more interesting. If New Zealand possesses players like Martin Guptill and Adam Milne, Pakistan have Mohammad Hafeez and Umar Gul. Pakistan will be led by Shahid Afridi, while Kane Williamson will lead the home side.

Despite both teams possessing some big names in their ranks, the focus has primarily been on Mohammad Amir, who is making a comeback to the Pakistan team after being banned for five years for his involvement in 2010 spot- fixing case. If Amir, who was a bowling sensation, bowls like the way he did before he was punished for his offence, New Zealand will be in trouble.

Along with Amir, Pakistan resembles a dangerous bowling unit with Gul and Wahab Riaz in the bowling department with Afridi as spinner. Hafeez, Sarfaraz Ahmed and Anwar Ali will have to deliver with the bat.

With the Auckland pitch expected to provide some good bounce, New Zealand will depend on their opening bowling pair of Trent Boult and Milne, who can create havoc if they get their act together.

Apart from their bowling, their batting looks more solid with Guptill in great form and Corey Anderson, who can belt the ball a long way. Grant Elliot and Williamson are other key batsmen for the home side.

New Zealand vs Pakistan T20 squads

Pakistan: Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Sohaib Maqsood, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shahid Afridi (captain), Imad Wasim, Anwar Ali, Amir Yamin, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Wahab Riaz, Umar Gul, Mohammad Rizwan, Saad Nasim and Mohammad Amir.

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (Captain), Todd Astle, Corey Anderson, Grant Elliott, Trent Boult, Matt Henry, Martin Guptill, Mitchell McClenaghan, Tom Latham (first game only), Colin Munro, Adam Milne, Mitchell Santner, Luke Ronchi and Ross Taylor.

New Zealand vs Pakistan T20 series schedule

1st T20 – New Zealand vs Pakistan

Venue – Eden Park, Auckland

Date - 15 January

Time: 7pm local time (11:30 IST, 6 am GMT)

2nd T20 – New Zealand vs Pakistan

Venue – Sedden Park, Hamilton

Date - 17 January

Time: 7pm local time (11:30 IST, 6 am GMT)

1st T20 – New Zealand vs Pakistan

Venue – Westpac stadium, Wellington

Date - 22 January

Time: 7pm local time (11:30 IST, 6 am GMT)

TV listings: PTV (Pakistan) Sky Sport Network (New Zealand) Sky Sports (the UK), Willow TV (the US)