NEW DELHI: Despite eight of their senior players set to miss the upcoming five-match Twenty20 International series against Pakistan, New Zealand opener Finn Allen believes the BlackCaps would still be a handful for the Babar Azam-led hosts.

New Zealand will be without the likes of Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, Daryl Mitchell, Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Mitchell Santner and Kane Williamson, with all engaged in the ongoing Indian Premier League, when they land in Rawalpindi ahead of the first T20, scheduled for April 18.

“It is an awesome opportunity with players being away at the IPL, for young guys such as Tim Robinson, who have shown their talent and had a good Super Smash tournament here in New Zealand during the summer,” Allen was quoted as saying by Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency on Friday.

“… it is rewarding for those guys and allows them to get an opportunity at the top level to see where they stand against a formidable Pakistan side,” he said.

All-rounder Michael Bracewell will be leading the side. He has not been seen in international cricket since March last year following a ruptured Achilles and a broken finger and returned to domestic engagements only recently.

“I guess with the upcoming series, we batted out with them at home not too long ago but it is on their turf now and we know from tours in the past, that they are pretty tough to beat at home,” the 24-year-old said.

“Hopefully, Mark Chapman can pull through for the boys again like last time, but I think it will be a good challenge and a good series,” he added.

Other first-choice players like Devon Conway, Will Young, Tim Southee, Colin Munro and Tom Latham are also missing for various reasons including injuries.

The big-hitting Allen, who has played 43 T20Is and has the highest score by a New Zealander in the format, all-rounder Jimmy Neesham and veteran spinner Ish Sodhi would be expected to be the guiding force for the side.

“… conditions will definitely be different, every game is a new game, and you have to start again, so I am looking forward to the challenges and different conditions, and seeing what we can come up with,” he said of his own role.

Allen hoped that a solid performance against Pakistan would also help him in T20 World Cup selection.

“Every chance you get to play for New Zealand or represent your country is a try-out, and an opportunity to showcase your skills…hopefully, selection takes care of itself, just clear minded on going over to Pakistan and trying to contribute to winning a series,” he said.

Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2024

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