New Zealand and Pakistan will have to do without their talismanic captains Kane Williamson and Babar Azam when the Twenty20 International series gets under way on Friday.
Black Caps skipper Williamson sits out the first of three T20s following the birth of his first child, but will be available for the remainder of the series.
Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Kyle Jamieson and Daryl Mitchell also miss the opener at Eden Park, so soon after New Zealand sealed a crushing Test series whitewash of West Indies this week.
Mitchell Santner captains New Zealand for the first match of the series, which Lockie Ferguson misses with a partial stress fracture in his lumbar spine, in Auckland.
A fractured thumb keeps Babar out of the series, so Shadab Khan - who has been struggling with a groin injury - steps up to lead his country.
Seamer Jacob Duffy is set to make his New Zealand debut and will be looking to give another demonstration of the Black Caps' strength in depth ahead of the ICC T20 World Cup next year.
"It's amazing how many people reach out when you sort of get the call-up," Southlander Duffy, Otago's white-ball skipper, said. "No, it's pretty exciting, especially for a small community like that.
"I've really enjoyed growing up there, playing all my cricket there, and a little bit of Hawke Cup cricket and stuff. People down there are really fizzed. I remember they were fizzed up when I first played for Otago, so this is another step-up and it's really cool."
MORE FIREWORKS FROM PHILLIPS AND CONWAY?
Glenn Phillips and Devon Conway unsurprisingly retain their place in the New Zealand squad after their heroics in a T20 series-clinching drubbing of the Windies.
Phillips smashed a 46-ball century - the quickest by a New Zealander in T20Is - and Conway blasted 65 not out in 72-run hammering in Mount Maunganui at the end of last month.
Their brutal 183-run stand was a world record for the third wicket in the shortest format at international level.
Phillips also took two catches and affected a run out after making 108 off just 51 balls - hitting eight sixes and 10 boundaries in a devastating knock.
The in-form 24-year-old has since made 136 opening for New Zealand A in a four-day match against their Windies counterparts, so Pakistan's bowlers will not be queueing up to bowl at him
PAKISTAN MUST SHOW THEY CAN COPE WITHOUT BABAR
The absence of Babar is a massive blow for Pakistan, who sealed a T20I whitewash of Zimbabwe last month.
Babar, second in the T20I batting rankings behind England's Dawid Malan, has delivered time again for his country but the tourists will have to show they can cope without him against high-class opposition.
Pakistan fast bowler Haris Rauf knows he will have to offer more than just sheer pace to do damage against the Black Caps.
"I have a clear mindset with my pace and 140+ [kph] is my average speed. But with Waqar Younis [Pakistan bowling coach], I think he is all in for pace, [and he] keeps on empathising [with me] while making me work on my line and length.
"There are so many things I am learning from him, like bowling yorkers using the crease, and he was best at it. I understand these days [with] the kind of cricket being played, I can't be predictable with my pace. You obviously have to keep on evolving with the other stocks. Bowling with pace is okay, but bowling slower ones with different lines are the points of discussion with Waqar. I am learning in practice and applying in games."
KEY OPTA FACTS
- Pakistan have won their last two bilateral T20I series against New Zealand. they are yet to win more consecutive series against the Black Caps in this format
- New Zealand had lost four consecutive T20I matches at Eden Park before beating West Indies in November.
- Pakistan are winless in their last three bilateral series away from home, losing two and drawing one. They had won seven in a row prior to that.
- Martin Guptill has scored 463 runs in T20Is between New Zealand and Pakistan, the most by any player, including four half-centuries – his joint-most against any side in the format (England being the other).
- Mohammad Hafeez has scored 412 runs against New Zealand in T20I cricket, the most by a Pakistan player against any country.