The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

PAK­ISTAN’S hopes of con­tin­u­ing their un­beaten run in seven con­sec­u­tive test se­ries will come un­der pres­sure when they face a resur­gent New Zealand in the sec­ond and fi­nal test in Hamil­ton with­out in­spi­ra­tional skip­per Mis­bah-ul-Haq. Vice-cap­tain Azhar Ali will take the reins af­ter Mis­bah re­turned home fol­low­ing the death of his fa­ther-in-law and was later banned from the game by the In­ter­na­tional Cricket Coun­cil as pun­ish­ment for his side’s slow over rate in their eight-wicket loss in the Christchurch opener. Pak­istan have rarely started tours well in the An­tipodes where their bats­men have strug­gled on seam-friendly wick­ets. They will also face op­po­nents en­joy­ing re­newed con­fi­dence at home af­ter New Zealand’s hor­ror tour of India. But the South Asian side have not lost a se­ries in New Zealand for over 30 years and the hosts are brac­ing for a bowler-led back­lash on a Sed­don Park wicket that usu­ally of­fers pace and bounce. “The na­ture of Hamil­ton is that you’re go­ing to be faced with dif­fer­ent chal­lenges – es­pe­cially with their strong seam at­tack,” New Zealand bats­man Henry Ni­cholls said. “Yasir (Shah) is also one of the best spin­ners in the world, so when you’re play­ing these top teams you’re al­ways be­ing chal­lenged. We’re ex­pect­ing them to be at the top of their game. And it’ll be the same for us – we’ll be look­ing to im­prove on our per­for­mance from Ha­gley as well.”

with un­der-fire spin­ner Nathan Lyon hold­ing on to his place in the pink-ball, third and fi­nal Test which starts today. “Jack­son Bird is in,” Smith told re­porters. “He took five-for in his last Test match. He’s bowled well with the pink ball in the (Sh­effield) Shield games he’s played. He’s bat­ted well in the nets here and he de­serves an op­por­tu­nity. So it’s un­lucky for Chadd (Say­ers) to be miss­ing out on his home ground, but we’ve gone with Jack­son Bird.” That means Aus­tralia will field three debu­tants in Ade­laide – English­born opener Matt Ren­shaw and mid­dle-order bats­men Peter Hand­scomb and Nic Maddin­son. Smith said he wanted to play a spin­ner in Ade­laide, which has a rep­u­ta­tion for tak­ing spin. “We were al­ways keen on play­ing a spin­ner in this game and that’s the way we’ve gone with Nathan Lyon,” Smith said. Heavy de­feats in the first and sec­ond Tests have plunged Aus­tralia into cri­sis, prompt­ing the chief se­lec­tor to quit and a dra­matic team shake-up with six play­ers axed for the

rub­bing saliva into the ball dur­ing last week’s sec­ond Test against Aus­tralia in Ho­bart. But du Plessis, who won back­ing from lead­ing fig­ures in­clud­ing Aus­tralian cap­tain Steve Smith, said he didn’t think he had done any­thing wrong. “I still com­pletely dis­agree with that (de­ci­sion),” du Plessis told re­porters in Ade­laide. “I feel like I’ve done noth­ing wrong... it’s not like I was try­ing to cheat or any­thing. For me (ball-tam­per­ing) is pick­ing the ball, scratch­ing the ball. Shin­ing the ball, I think all crick­eters would say, is not in the same place.” Du Plessis ar­gued the science was un­clear about the ef­fects of rub­bing sweet­ened saliva on a ball, and said it was im­pos­si­ble to po­lice such a rule given the drinks, sweets and chew­ing gum play­ers use on-field. Pre­vi­ous ball-tam­per­ing cases have in­volved the use of dirt, fin­ger­nails and beer­bot­tle tops to rough up the ball and al­ter its flight in the air. “I just think it’s opened up a can of worms with what’s go­ing to hap­pen now go­ing for­ward with the game,” du Plessis said. “Some­thing like this needed to hap­pen to cre­ate a bit more aware­ness around it.”

Alexis Sanchez (right) in ac­tion for Arse­nal against Manch­ester United’s An­der Her­rera

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