Relentless Pakistan eye series win in Dubai
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 the New Zealand batting, which folded for 262 and 231 on a flat Sheikh Zayed Stadium pitch.
There seems to be no change in fortune for the tourists as the Dubai stadium pitch promises more help for spin and in turn multiplies the 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 both all at sea against the 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.
Pakistan will be without 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, during which he made a career-best 176.
They are also in danger of losing the second opener Mohammad Hafeez who is doubtful for the second Test after suffering a hamstring injury.
“Hafeez suffered the injury during the first Test and we are looking at his fitness and will take a final call early Monday, but we have two good openers in the squad who can be able replacements,” said Misbah on Sunday.
“It will be slightly worrying because Shehzad is in good form and Hafez gives us an exra option of bowling, but we have to face up to such things.”
Experienced Taufeeq Umar, who played the last of his 43 Tests in July 2012, and Shan Masood are likely to fill in as openers.
The rest of the batting is expected to flourish after Younis Khan, Misbah-ul Haq and Hafeez scored centuries in the first Test.
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum said he hoped his team would be able to implement some changes.
“We would obviously like to win the toss and make some adjustments from the last game and I am sure the guys will step up and adjust,” said McCullum.
“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 can win the toss in the next game,” said McCullum.
The third and final Test will be played in Sharjah from November 26-30. The teams will 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. – AFP