A Test series between two troubled teams is about to start. Pakistan are
under various on and off field difficulties and New Zealand have never
been at ease with the longest format of the game. The first of the two Test matches
start at Hamilton from Friday.
These two teams have every reason to have a crack at each other as both desperately
need some wins under their belts.
Click for Live Score Card of New Zealand Vs Pakistan
New Zealand after not an ideal but an impressive series in India would be taking
heart; also an impressive showing at in the three day tour game would have increased
their confidence. Daniel Vettori, after being rested in the T20s is back
to lead the side again.
Andy McKay is sidelined after failing to recover from an injury; Darrel Tuffey
is included in squad as his replacement. Chris Martin and Tim Southee are the
expected starters on January 7, while one of Brent Arnel, James Franklin and Darrel
Tuffey will play alongside them.
Batting, that has been a concern for New Zealand for some time now would be
boosted by solid performance in India, T20s and tour game. Brendon McCullum
cracked a double century in the three day game. After winning the T20 series
2-1 New Zealand have psychological edge over Pakistan. Overall New Zealand are
better positioned than Pakistan to go up unassailably 1-0 in the series.
New Zealand have lost three and drawn two out of their last five Tests.
Pakistan showed fight and determination under their new captain Misbah ul Haq. Misbah's form as a captain is also very encouraging. He played a captain's
knock of unbeaten 126 in the tour match. Apart from Misbah, Younis Khan's return
has powered the middle order.
Umar Akmal's dodgy form may be compensated with the rise of middle order batsman
Asad Shafiq, who impressed in the only Test he played against South Africa. In
a country where fast bowlers are a plenty, it would be a tough call for the selectors
to pick three from Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz, Sohail Tanvir and Tanvir Ahmed.
Saeed Ajmal the off spinner has flown home due to his father's death and is expected
to miss the Test match. Abdur Rehman will definitely start as the sole spinner,
while Mohammad Hafeez's off spins would aid him.
The series is crucial for Pakistan who now haven't won a Test series in over
four years. The leadership of Misbah, who leads from the front, is unlike what
Pakistan have seen by Younis, Salman Butt and Mohammad Yousaf in the
Pakistan have won one of their last five Tests, drawn two and lost two.