Pakistan cricket fans can watch live online for free when their national team opens a limited-overs tour of New Zealand Friday, with the first of three T20 international matches with the world’s top ranking in the shortest format of cricket on the line — just two months before the World T20 Cup in India.
The world rankings in T20 are extremely tight, with the top-ranked West Indies just eight points ahead of the world’s 10th-ranked nation, India. But according to the International Cricket Council, a 3-0 whitewash in the bilateral T20 series by either team vaults either New Zealand or Pakistan ahead of the Windies into the world Number One slot — even though the two teams are tied in sixth place with 114 points entering the showdown.
A 2-1 series victory would put the winning side into fifth place in the world.
But perhaps the biggest, and most controversial, news of the Pakistan tour of New Zealand has been the return to the Pakistan national side of 23-year-old left arm fast bowler Mohammad Amir.
— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) January 3, 2016
Amir has not played international cricket in more than five years, after the then-teenage bowling prodigy was arrested in England for his part in a spot-fixing scheme during the Pakistan tour of England. Amir served three months behind bars in the United Kingdom and was banished from cricket.
But in November he returned, joining the Chittagong Vikings of the Bangladesh Premier League, the first step toward his return to the Pakistan team. But even in the BPL, his presence caused trouble, with Pakistan batsman Mohammad Hafeez pulling out of the BPL rather than play on the same team as Amir.
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“I have no personal issues with Amir or Chittagong, it’s my personal opinion that I can’t share the dressing room with someone who hurt my country’s integrity,” Hafeez said at the time. “I have no problems facing Amir as I have played against him in the domestic matches but can’t be in the same team.”
But now Hafeez and Amir are on the same team after all.
To find out how to watch the New Zealand vs. Pakistan first T20 International match live online for free, see the streaming link in the final paragraph of this article. The match is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. local time at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand, on Friday, January 15. For cricket fans in the United States, that start time will be 1 a.m. Eastern Time, midnight Central, and 10 p.m. Pacific Time on Thursday, January 14.
Pakistan cricket fans can get an early look at their team ahead if the T20 series in the below video, from a practice session this week.
Amir, for his part, said that he felt comfortable back in the Pakistan camp, even though he knows that not every player supports his presence there.
“Everyone has an opinion and I respect that. It’s their right to express whatever they felt and I am not hurt at all. In the camp I met all, and I am happy they all heard me. I am lucky they understood me and now the atmosphere is good around me.”
Another Pakistan player, Umar Akmal, who had been facing a suspension for a far less serious offense — a dress code violation — will be permitted to play in the T20 series opener against New Zealand anyway, the Pakistan Cricket Board announced on Wednesday.
To watch the first New Zealand vs Pakistan T20 international cricket match live online for free and legally, go to ESPN3, the online-only channel in the ESPN network, which will carry the game live at this link. ESPN3 will carry all six matches in the Pakistan tour of New Zealand — three T20 international matches and three ODIs, and the streaming channel is free to subscribers of most major internet service providers and many minor ISPs, as well. For a full list, check this link.
[Featured Photo By Kamran Jebreili / Associated Press]