New Zealand skipper Tom Latham and Pakistan captain Babar Azam pose with the ODI series trophy at Rawalpindi Stadium on Wednesday. LAHORE: After an interesting five-match T20I series that ended 2-2, Pakistan, with the ICC World Cup in sight, take on New Zealand in the first one-day international of a five-match series at Rawalpindi Stadium on Thursday (today). The second match is also set to be played at the same venue while the action shifts to Karachi for the final three games. A riveting T20I series saw New Zealand come from 0-2 behind to level the series with the fourth match washed out after a hailstorm in Rawalpindi. With the ODI series, both teams are looking to amp up their preparations for the ICC World Cup to be played in India this year. Pakistan are also scheduled to play three ODIs against Afghanistan in August and September’s ACC Men’s Asia Cup. While Pakistan are nearly at full strength, New Zealand are missing a few regulars who are playing in the Indian Premier League. That well-fought T20I series promises equally competitive and exciting ODI series for which both the sides have added a player each. Pakistan have added wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Haris and New Zealand has included Mark Chapman, whose extraordinary batting efforts in the T20Is earned him player of the series award. The ODI series offers both sides the opportunity to feel out each other’s strengths and weaknesses ahead of the World Cup in October-November. Both teams also have a chance to go to the top of the ICC Men’s ODI Team Rankings. New Zealand are currently level on points with top-ranked Australia and India and a series victory would see them go to the top of the Rankings. Pakistan, who are placed fifth currently, can also climb to the top if they manage to sweep the series 5-0. Since 2022, Pakistan have won nine of their 12 ODIs, winning three of the four series they played. During this period, they have beaten Australia (2-1), West Indies (3-0) and the Netherlands (3-0). Their only loss incidentally came against New Zealand at home earlier this year when they lost a bilateral series by a 1-2 margin. Ahead of the series, skipper Babar Azam said each and every match that Pakistan play from now on holds a great significance. “This series is a brilliant opportunity for us to fine-tune our combinations and gather the momentum ahead of the mega events in the shape of Asia Cup and the much-anticipated World Cup. This team has done well in the past one year in the one-day format and I have firm faith in my boys that they will perform according to expectations in the exciting next seven months.” New Zealand skipper Tom Latham was ecstatic about the visitors’ comeback in the T20I series, but maintained that the ODIs would present a stiff challenge. “To come out with a series draw after being two down was awesome. It’s going to be a tough ODI series on the back of what this T20I series has produced. We have seen some great games of cricket and the one-day series is going to be no different. It’s a new format, and we have to adapt quickly. Hopefully we can do that straight Today’s ODI will be the first between the two sides at the Pindi Cricket Stadium in 20 years. In 2003, New Zealand played two ODIs and lost both by seven wickets and 49 runs. A year earlier, Pakistan had defeated New Zealand by three wickets. Overall, Pakistan enjoy a healthy 18-5 on a head to head on home soil. The series will also see the return of Chris Broad to Pakistan for the first time in 14 years. The former England opener and member of the ICC Elite Panel of Match Referees will referee in all the five ODIs with umpiring responsibilities to be shared between Ahsan Raza, Aleem Dar, Asif Yaqoob, Faisal Afridi, Joel Wilson, Langton Rusere and Rashid Riaz. Squads: Pakistan: Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan (vice-captain), Abdullah Shafique, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Haris Sohail, Ihsanullah, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Haris (wk), Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Naseem Shah, Salman Ali Agha, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood and Usama Mir. New Zealand: Tom Latham (captain), Adam Milne, Ben Lister, Blair Tickner, Chad Bowes, Cole McConchie, Daryl Mitchell, Henry Nicholls, Henry Shipley, Ish Sodhi, Jimmy Neesham, Mark Chapman, Matt Henry, Rachin Ravindra, Tom Blundell and Will Young. Series schedule (all matches begin at 3:30pm) April 27 — First ODI, Rawalpindi. Aleem Dar and Ahsan Raza (on-field), Rashid Riaz (third umpire), Faisal Afridi (fourth umpire); Chris Broad (match referee) April 29 — Second ODI, Rawalpindi. Aleem Dar and Rashid Riaz (on-field), Ahsan Raza (third umpire), Asif Yaqoob (fourth umpire); Chris Broad (match referee) May 3 — Third ODI, Karachi. Langton Rusere and Faisal Afridi (on-field), Joel Wilson (third umpire), Rashid Riaz (fourth umpire); Chris Broad (match referee) May 5 — Fourth ODI, Karachi. Joel Wilson and Asif Yaqoob (on-field), Langton Rusere (third umpire), Faisal Afridi (fourth umpire); Chris Broad (match referee) May 7 — Fifth ODI, Karachi. Langton Rusere and Rashid Riaz (on-field), Joel Wilson (third umpire), Asif Yaqoob (fourth umpire); Chris Broad (match referee).