NZ eye first Pak­istan se­ries win in decades

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

New Zealand have a chance to seal a first se­ries win against Pak­istan in more than 30 years in the se­cond Test in Hamil­ton with the tourists with­out tal­is­man Mis­bah-ul-Haq. The sev­enth-ranked Black Caps go into the match which be­gins to­mor­row 1-0 up in the two-Test se­ries fol­low­ing a com­pre­hen­sive eight-wicket vic­tory over se­cond-ranked Pak­istan in the open­ing Test in Christchurch. A win or draw in Hamil­ton will be enough for New Zealand to notch their first se­ries win over Pak­istan since 1985 and only their third ever in 22 se­ries be­tween the two coun­tries.

The last time they met six years ago in Hamil­ton, New Zealand col­lapsed spec­tac­u­larly in their se­cond in­nings, los­ing their last eight wick­ets for 50 runs to be beaten by 10 wick­ets.

Wa­hab Riaz took three wick­ets in that on­slaught and comes into con­tention for this Test af­ter be­ing by-passed in Christchurch. Pak­istan need their own in­jec­tion of good for­tune as they bat­tle to turn around a sub-par bat­ting per­for­mance in Christchurch where they to­talled only 304 in two in­nings.

“As a bat­ting unit we need to put up a bet­ter show ... We have to im­prove in the next game,” said Azhar Ali, who takes over the cap­taincy in the ab­sence of Mis­bah.

The in­spi­ra­tional Mis­bah, who has kept Pak­istan un­beaten in the last seven se­ries they have played around the world, has re­turned home fol­low­ing a fam­ily be­reave­ment.

He would not have been avail­able even if he had stayed in New Zealand af­ter re­ceiv­ing a one-Test ban for Pak­istan’s slow over rate in the first Test. “We’ll miss him, def­i­nitely,” Azhar said. “Ob­vi­ously we have to cope with that now and who­ever comes into the side will take that op­por­tu­nity and give us runs, as well as the sta­bil­ity he gives us in the mid­dle.”

Apart from the likely in­clu­sion of Wa­hab, Pak­istan were re­veal­ing lit­tle about the make-up of their side for a pitch that gen­er­ally of­fers pace and re­verse swing, with some turn as the match pro­gresses. Azhar even sug­gested there was the pos­si­bil­ity that acclaimed leg-spin­ner Yasir Shah could be ex­cluded.

“We’ll see the pitch and make the de­ci­sion then. What­ever the con­di­tions tell us, we’ll try to pick the best XI for those con­di­tions,” he said. New Zealand have spin­ner Mitchell Sant­ner back in their squad af­ter re­cov­er­ing from a wrist frac­ture while Dean Brown­lie, whose last Test was in 2013, was re­called as cover for Ross Tay­lor af­ter a growth was de­tected in his left eye.

How­ever, late Wed­nes­day the 77-Test vet­eran was cleared to play in Hamil­ton, although he will undergo surgery af­ter­wards. “Both the spe­cial­ists he’s seen in re­cent days have ad­vised Ross still has 20/20 vi­sion and Ross him­self feels con­fi­dent he is ready to play,” team phys­io­ther­a­pist Tommy Sim­sek said.

“Ross will still need to undergo a med­i­cal pro­ce­dure on his eye to re­move the ptery­gium be­fore it gets any larger. “He’ll have surgery fol­low­ing the Test which rule him out of cricket for ap­prox­i­mately four to six weeks.”

New Zealand, like Pak­istan, were short of runs in the first Test but de­clared them­selves de­lighted with the “world-class” seam at­tack of Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Neil Wag­ner and Colin de Grand­homme, sug­gest­ing no change there.

“The way the four seam­ers in par­tic­u­lar got into spells, held their ar­eas for long pe­ri­ods ... was world class and it cer­tainly was a huge ef­fort,” said cap­tain Kane Wil­liamson. Both sides head to Aus­tralia af­ter the Test, where New Zealand will play three ODIs and Pak­istan three Tests as well as a se­ries of lim­ited-over matches. — AFP

ADE­LAIDE: Cricket South Africa chief ex­ec­u­tive Haroon Lor­gat (L) speaks at a press con­fer­ence with South Africa’s cricket cap­tain Faf du Plessis (R) ahead of the third Test cricket match be­tween Aus­tralia and South Africa in Ade­laide yes­ter­day.—AFP

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