Pakistan to stick with winning plan in first Test against New Zealand

Black Caps, like their Australian counterparts, struggle to deal with spin bowling
Pakistan bowler Zulfiqar Babar in action on Day 4 during the 1st Test against South Africa at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on October 17, 2013. Satish Kumar / The National
Pakistan bowler Zulfiqar Babar in action on Day 4 during the 1st Test against South Africa at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on October 17, 2013. Satish Kumar / The National

Pakistan hope to keep up their winning momentum, which gave them a long-awaited series victory over Australia, when they face New Zealand in the first Test in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

Pakistan achieved a 2-0 win with emphatic 221-run and 356-run victories for their first series win over Australia in 20 years.

The win was more significant as Pakistan were without their match-winning spinner Saeed Ajmal, who is suspended because of an illegal bowling action, while spearheads Junaid Khan and Wahab Riaz were both injured.

But an inexperienced bowling attack of left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar (14 wickets) and leg-spinner Yasir Shah (12) forced spin-shy Australia into submission in both Tests.

Pakistan will continue to attack a New Zealand team who also struggle against spin and have not won a Test series against Pakistan since a 2-0 triumph at home in 1985.

More impressive is Pakistan’s home record, having not lost against the Black Caps since 1969. Of the 50 Tests between the two, Pakistan have won 23 and New Zealand just seven with 20 drawn.

For Pakistan, Younis Khan mustered 468 runs in two Tests against Australia while Misbah-ul-Haq and Azhar Ali notched a century in each innings of the second Test. Opener Ahmed Shahzad and Sarfraz Ahmed also hit hundreds in the first Test, a confidence boost that Misbah is confident will be maintained.

I am confident that we will play good cricket against New Zealand and we should play that way,” Misbah said.

“There is confidence in the side and not a weak link that you can see. The batsmen are in good form, the bowlers are delivering. Given that we are playing in the same conditions, we are confident that we can perform well.”

Pakistan have retained the same 16-man squad for the first Test and will likely make no changes from the second Test against Australia.

New Zealand hope leg-spinner Ish Sodhi can come good after taking five wickets in the drawn match against Pakistan A.

The Kiwis will also hope experienced middle-order batsman Ross Taylor is fit after injuring a calf muscle and making just 11 in the tour game in Sharjah.

New Zealand coach Mike Hesson said Pakistan will be tough in the familiar UAE conditions. “Pakistan are an incredibly tough team to play in conditions favourable to them,” he said. “Our record against them is actually the worst against any of the Test-playing nations.”

The other two Tests will be played in Dubai (November 17-21) and Sharjah (November 26-30).

sports@thenational.ae

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Published: November 8, 2014 04:00 AM

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