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New Zealand coach wary of Sharjah conditions

SHARJAH: New Zealand coach Mike Hesson warned his team needed to be at their best to compete on a flat Sharjah pitch where they meet Pakistan in the third and final Test from Wednesday.

New Zealand seek a series-levelling win after losing the first Test in Abu Dhabi by 248 runs and drawing the second in Dubai.

Hesson said a flat and grass-less Sharjah pitch will be tough.

“In the other two pitches we could see grass but not here. This looks a bit different. Sharjah traditionally is lower and skiddier and slows up as the game goes on. So I don’t expect this wicket to be any different,” said Hesson on Monday.

“Look the warm up game we had played here had lot more grass on it,” said Hesson of the drawn three-day game before the Test series. “We have to play very well to be able to compete in these conditions.”

Sharjah cricket stadium has been a happy hunting ground for Pakistan since 1980s when they dominated one-day internationals here.

They chased down a tough 302-run target here to win a Test against Sri Lanka in January this year.

Hesson admitted winning the toss will be an advantage after team calling correctly dictated terms in the first two Tests.

“Toss does gives great advantage, no doubt about it,” said Hesson whose team lost the toss in Abu Dhabi but won it in Dubai.

“I think being able to bat first and third rather than second and fourth has advantages in this part of the world.

“But it does not mean you are out of the game, only thing is that it makes it a bit harder.”

Hesson said his team’s improved performance in the second Test adds to the confidence in the camp.

“I think it was a great Test match and we gained a lot of confidence from that and we made big improvements from Abu Dhabi to Dubai but we know that Pakistan will come hard at us again and we have to be able to withstand them over long periods of time,” said Hesson, 40.

Hesson said New Zealand’s come from behind win against Sri Lanka to level a two-Test series 1-1 in November 2012 also a boost.

“We gained a lot of confidence from there and that was really impressive. The ball swung there (in Sri Lanka) and if the ball swings here it gives us more of a chance,” said Hesson, who is in charge since July 2012.

Hesson praised Pakistan leg-spinner Yasir Shah who took a career-best 5-79 and left-armer Zulfiqar Babar, who got eight wickets in the second Test.

“I think he (Shah) is a high quality bowler.

“In all conditions around the world he will be a challenge. He bowls at good pace and he has good variety and he bowls wicket taking delivers. Babar knows these conditions well and because of the pace he bowls and bowls wide of the crease he too is a challenge.” – AFP

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