About the Match
New Zealand will host Pakistan in a 2-match test series that begins with the 1st Test at Christchurch from 17th November; despite the earthquake and associated aftershocks, the scheduled matches will go ahead as planned. The practice game was washed away and although Pakistan could be at a disadvantage here, they will draw inspiration from their recent good performances in the longer format of the game. The Kiwis have infused their squad with fresh talent in the hopes to make a comeback from their poor run overseas in tests this year; it needs to be seen if they can perform well against a buoyant side like Pakistan, which has registered test victories at home and away.
Jeet Raval, the uncapped batsman with an average of 55.71 in last season’s Plunket Shield, will replace Martin Guptill as the opener in the test squad. All-rounders Colin de Grandhomme and Todd Astle, who did well in domestic cricket recently, have been picked and they can add depth to the batting line-up. Astle will lead the spin attack and with 116 wickets to his name in the last three season’s Plunket Shield, he is set to replace Mitchell Santner who has been ruled out due to a freak injury.
Kane Williamson’s batting form has been good and he can lead from the front; players like Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Ross Taylor, BJ Watling and all-rounders Neesham, Astle and Grandhomme will try to stabilize the innings. On the bowling front, Trent Boult will lead the pace attack and he can pose a stiff challenge with help from other speedsters like Matt Henry, Tim Southee and Neil Wagner.
Although Santner’s absence could hurt against the hard-hitting Pakistanis, Astle’s legspin shows promise and they could try to outwit the visitors with an effective combination of pace and spin.
Sharjeel Khan will make his test debut as the opening batsman after posting impressive scores in the Quaid-e-Azam trophy; he has 4853 runs under his belt in first-class cricket, and can be a sturdy partner to other top-order batsmen like Azhar Ali and Sami Aslam. All-rounder Mohammad Rizwan will also make his debut and is expected to do well from the middle-order.
Misbah-ul-Haq will lead the side, and he can try to keep the scoreboard ticking with help from others like Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq, Sarfraz Ahmed and Babar Azam. Azhar Ali performed well after his promotion up the order, as he scored his maiden triple-century last month, and can help pile up the runs at the top. On the bowling front, Mohammad Nawaz and Yasir Shah who have been bowling very well in recent outings, will combine to form the spin attack; if the conditions suit their style of bowling, they could prove to be a tough barrier for the hosts.
The pace attack will have trio left-arm bowlers Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir and Rahat Ali while Sohail Khan and Imran Khan will partner for the right-arm pace bowling. This is a strong unit of experienced bowlers and batsmen, which could come out with all its firepower over the weekend.
New Zealand may have the home advantage but they will need time to settle down as a fresh unit with new inclusions; Pakistan on the other hand comes here at the back of a successful year in tests and with a strong batting outfit and pace attack to go with, they are likely to be the winners here