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Toss key to final Pakistan-NZ Test

DUBAI: Veteran left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori’s comeback and who wins the toss will be the joint focus in the series-deciding third Test between Pakistan and New Zealand starting in Sharjah on Wednesday.

New Zealand have included Vettori in the eleven in their bids to level the series which they trail 1-0 after losing the first Test by 248 runs in Abu Dhabi and drawing the second in Dubai.

The 35-year-old Vettori, who has 360 wickets, played the last of his 112 Tests (one Test for ICC World XI and the rest for New Zealand) in July 2012 and has since been sidelined due to a back injury.

Skipper Brendon McCullum confirmed Vettori will replace Jimmy Neesham in the side.

“Yeah, Dane will play and we are all excited about it,” said McCullum on Tuesday. “He will become the most capped Test player for New Zealand and we are going with three spinners.”

Vettori will overtake Stephen Fleming who also played 111 Tests for New Zealand.

Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul Haq admitted Vettori’s inclusion showed New Zealand’s aspiration to level the series.

“I think they will do every bit to level the series,” said Misbah.

“Every team aspires to win, especially when they are 1-0 down and level the series. Vettori is an experienced campaigner but we have played him before so we know how he bowls,”

Besides Vettori, the toss will also be a key factor as the team winning the toss dictated terms in the first two Tests.

Pakistan piled up 566-3 after winning the toss and then spun out New Zealand twice for a comprehensive win.

Despite the odds, New Zealand staged an impressive comeback in the second Test in Dubai, winning the toss and dictating terms before Pakistan, set a target of 261 on the final day, salvaged a draw to set up an intriguing finale.

Pakistan’s spinners — left armer Zulfiqar Babar (13 wickets in two Tests) and leggie Yasir Shah (11) — will hold the key.

But McCullum said his team can take confidence from an improved performance in the second Test.

“We would have loved to have won the second Test,” said McCullum.

“But you have to look at what we have done in Dubai, bank the confidence and head to Sharjah knowing that we have an opportunity to win away from home if we play up a little bit up.”

Pakistan will bring in opener Mohammad Hafeez who missed the second Test due to a hamstring injury.

His bowling action was reported as suspect after the first Test but he can bowl in Sharjah, pending a report of a bio-mechanical analysis performed in England on Monday.

He returned to Sharjah early Tuesday and will replace Taufeeq Umar while paceman Mohammad Talha is likely to come in for Eshan Adil who suffered a side strain.

Misbah wants Pakistan to improve their fielding in Sharjah after dropping a number of catches in Dubai.

“I am pretty pleased with the bowling and batting,” said the Pakistan captain.

“In the field we need to take our chances because on these sort of wickets if you miss chances it could be really difficult for the bowlers.

The two teams also play two Twenty20 matches and five one-day internationals after the Tests.

Teams (from):

Pakistan: Misbah-ul Haq (capt), Taufeeq Umar, Mohammad Hafeez, 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, Daniel Vettori, Mark Craig, Tim Southee, Doug Bracewell, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult, Ish Sodhi.

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