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Captain Shaheen to demote Babar Azam in T20Is, Rizwan to get new partner vs NZ | Cricket

Pakistan are expected to go for a new opening pair in the T20 series in New Zealand with Muhammad Rizwan to partner young Saim Ayub instead of Babar Azam.

Pakistan’s Babar Azam(PTI)

According to reports from Auckland, the team management had Rizwan and Saim batting in the nets against the new ball bowlers while Babar and Fakhar Zaman had their knocks against mainly spinners in the other nets.

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Babar and Rizwan have opened pretty successfully for Pakistan in the T20 format since 2021 but apparently, new captain Shaheen Shah Afridi, new high-performance coach Yasir Arafat and the team director Mohammad Hafeez are keen to try out something new against New Zealand in the five-match series beginning on January 12.

Their 150-plus runs unbeaten partnership helped Pakistan beat India for the first time in any World Cup game during the T20 WC in Dubai in 2021.

The 21-year Saim, who played 8 T20 internationals last year and made his Test debut in Sydney earlier this month, is known for his hard-hitting style of batting and the team management believes he and Rizwan can give the team faster starts.

Babar is now expected to bat at number three followed by Fakhar Zaman (himself an opener and hard-hitting southpaw), Azam Khan and Iftikhar Ahmed.

With Babar no longer captain in any format, team insiders said the high-profile batsmen had agreed to bat one down after Shaheen and Hafeez spoke to him.

Pakistan have generally done well in the T20 format and played in the 2022 World T20 Cup final and also made the Asia Cup T20 format final and World T20 Cup semi-finals in 2021.

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