Not a lot of times Pakistan enter a series against New Zealand in New Zealand standing a serious chance. Afterall, since 2001, Pakistan have won just one One-Day International series in New Zealand have conceded four of them with the last two series in 2014-15 and 2015-16 resulting in whitewashes.
New Zealand should field a full-strength side for the first game, with Kane Williamson returning to take over as captain from stand-in Tom Latham. Tim Southee, who was also rested for the last two ODIs against West Indies, is expected to start.
Pakistan may well opt to stick with the side that won the tour game so convincingly, which would mean Imam-ul-Haq, who has started his career brightly, may have to sit the opening game out. Mohammad Hafeez is expected to play his first match as a specialist batsman since he was banned from bowling, with Shoaib Malik expected to take over that part-time responsibility.
The Basin Reserve, which hosts ODI cricket for the first time since January 2016, has historically offered seam and bounce for the bowlers. However, having not seen the ground host much limited-overs cricket of late, it is difficult to predict what sort of strip will be on offer. Rain is forecast for Saturday, but with enough dry spells to allow a completed game.
NZ- Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Todd Astle, Tim Southee, Matt Henry/Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult.
PAK- Azhar Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed, Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali, Rumman Raees.
Players who cannot be ignored
Munro, Hafeez, Taylor.