Pakistan eye test series win against New Zealand
Pakistan inflicted a big 248-run defeat on the Kiwis in the first Test in Abu Dhabi for a 1-0 lead in the three-match series with left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar and leggie Yasir Shah posing serious problems.
Besides a spin web, paceman Rahat Ali, man-of-the-match for his six wickets in the game, reverse swung the ball to pile further problems on New Zealand batting, folded for 262 and 231 on a flat Sheikh Zayed Stadium pitch.
There seems no change in fortune for the tourists as the Dubai stadium pitch promises more help for spin and in turn multiplies problems for the struggling New Zealand batsmen.
New Zealand’s best batsmen against spin, Kane Williamson (3 and 23) and Ross Taylor (nought and eight), were all at sea against Pakistani bowling.
Opener Rod Latham showed some grit against spin, scoring his maiden hundred in the first innings but that wasn’t enough to thwart Pakistan.
Skipper Misbah-ul Haq said he was still not eyeing a white-wash, like his team did against Australia with a 2-0 scoreline just a week before the New Zealand series.
“We should just take it one by one and it’s really important to just focus and do things right and if there are weak areas do that right,” said Misbah, who captained his 15th Pakistani win, a national record.
“It is more important to put in a combined performance and then you get the desired result and I never believe in white-washes, we just focus on the next game and stick to basic rules come Monday.”
Pakistan will miss opener Ahmed Shehzad, ruled out of the remaining two Tests after suffering a fractured skull when he was hit by a Corey Anderson’s bouncer in the first Test, where he however made a career-best 176.
Experienced Taufeeq Umar, who played the last of his 43 Tests in July 2012, is likely to replace Shehzad.
The rest of the batting is expected to flourish after Younis Khan, Misbah-ul Haq and Mohammad Hafeez scored centuries in the first Test.
Pakistan will be slightly worried over their fifth bowler Hafeez after he was reported for suspect action during the first Test.
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum hoped his team would get a good start by winning the toss.
“The toss was a big factor for us, especially when you’re coming over here to play a team so familiar and red hot in these conditions. Hopefully I win the toss next game,” said McCullum.
The third and final Test will be played in Sharjah from November 26-30.
The teams also play two Twenty20 and five one-day internationals.
Pakistan: Misbah-ul Haq (capt), Mohammad Hafeez, Taufeeq Umar, Shan Masood, Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Talha, Rahat Ali, Imran Khan, Ehsan Adil, Sarfraz Ahmed, Zulfiqar Babar, Yasir Shah.
New Zealand: Brendon McCullum (capt), Hamish Rutherford, Tom Latham, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Corey Anderson, BJ Watling, Luke Ronchi, Jimmy Neesham, Mark Craig, Tim Southee, Doug Bracewell, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult, Ish Sodhi.
Umpires: Paul Reiffel (AUS) and Ranmore Martinesz (SRI)
Tv umpire: Rod Tucker (AUS)
Match referee: Andy Pycroft (ZIM)