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|Colin de Grandhomme||4.0||1||3||1||0.75|
|Colin de Grandhomme||26||19||2||2||136.84|
|Colin de Grandhomme||13.0||2||36||0||2.77|
|Colin de Grandhomme||20||22||1||1||90.91|
The series between Pakistan couldn't have had a better storyline. After the Kiwis were drubbed in the limited-overs leg of the tournament, they bounced back to win the first match of the test series in a rather dramatic fashion. Pakistan then bounced back to score an important win and level the test-series 1-1. Although the score-line accurately reflects the how see-saw the battle has been in the series so far, it doesn't tell the complete picture. One final battle awaits the two teams at Abu Dhabi where the two teams will be looking to take the final piece of the pie. Spin has played a key role in both the matches so far and if New Zealand can come to terms with Yasir Shah's spin, it's certainly going to be an interesting battle in the deciding test of the series.
Pakistan`s victory over the Kiwis in the second test was nothing short of phenomenal as they thrashed the visitors by a hefty margin of an innings and 16 runs to get back into the series. Their win was scripted by the stupendous bowling performance by Yasir Shah who single-handedly rattled the Kiwi batsmen in both the innings.
The stage, however, was first set by Pakistani batsmen who played extremely well on a tricky batting surface. They scored 418 for 5 before eventually declaring the innings. As many as two batsmen scored centuries and Azhar Ali contributed with a well-made 81 before he was ran-out by Tim Southee. Haris Sohail and Babar Azam have looked fluent of-late and they converted their fluency to performance as the duo scored 147 and 127 in their respective innings. They'll once again have a huge role to play for Pakistan to post an imposing total on the board.
Going into the third test, its not all rose for the home side. Mohammad Abbas picked up a shoulder injury in the second test and we might see Shaheen Afridi replacing him in the third test. While Shaheen Afridi has impressed one and all in the limited-overs format, it will be interesting to see how he does in the longest format of the game. Other than him, Yasir Shah's factor will be an important one and even if he's able to cast even a similar influence on the game as he did in the first match, it will be tough to beat the home side.
Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez, Azhar Ali, Haris Sohail, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed, Bilal Asif, Yasir Shah, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi.
The Kiwis should a lot of mettle and character in the way they bounced back from the limited-overs loss to post a win in the opening test of the series. Ajaz Patel played a crucial role in that game as Pakistan were bundled out for four-runs short of the required total. New Zealand, however, could not keep the momentum going and faltered badly in the second test of the series where they were defeated by a massive margin.
After collapsing to bundle out for a total of just 90-runs, it was never going to be easy for the Kiwis to secure a fightback and it didn't change either. Although the likes of Tom Latham, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls fought back hard, the mountain was too steep to climb. New Zealand scored a total of 312 runs in the second innings riding on brilliant half-centuries from Taylor, Latham, and Nicholls.
While their first innings was majorly responsible for their massive defeat, their bowling, too, toothless at best. On a dicey surface, it was surprising to see the Kiwi bowlers struggling against Pakistani middle-order especially after picking up a couple of early wickets. Overall, New Zealand's struggle against spinners has been emphasized time and again in this series and the last match was one such occasion. The Kiwis will have to do something about playing spin which seems to be a remote possibility at the moment.
Jeet Raval, TWM Latham, KS Williamson, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling, Colin de Grandhomme, Ajaz Patel, W Somerville, TG Southee, TA Boult.
With surface likely to deteriorate with every passing over, the captain winning the toss will be looking to bat first.
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The surface at Abu Dhabi has supported spinners more than that of Dubai in the past and it's likely to be the scenario once again. The weather here has cooled down as compared to what it was like a couple of months ago which should bring in some respite for the players. As seen in the earlier to matches, the team batting first should be happy with any total in excess of 350 in the first innings.
It's been an interesting series so far. The Kiwis were slowly but surely growing in stature with every passing game before hitting the road-block in the second test. Playing spin is going to be an important skill going into the third match with surface likely to assist spinners as the game progresses. New Zealand haven't done that well in the tour so far and it will be difficult get acquainted with the surface and spinners right away. Therefore, Pakistan are more likely to emerge victorious in the upcoming encounter.
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