Pakistan vs New Zealand, 1st Test, Preview- The focus shifts to the longest format of the game

Pakistan vs New Zealand, 1st Test, Preview- The focus shifts to the longest format of the game

After a well fought T20I and ODI series, the two teams will fight for the Oye Hoye Cup.

Oye Hoye Cup 2018
Oye Hoye Cup 2018. (Photo Source: Twitter)

After coming out of nearly eight months of hibernation, New Zealand played Pakistan in T20Is and ODIs in the UAE. The visitors have provided the hosts with some extremely tough competition where the latter usually dominate. While the Kiwis lost the T20Is 2-1, the ODI series was levelled with the final game abandoned. Since the limited-overs leg of the tour has come to an end, the focus now shifts to the longest format.

Starting Friday, these two teams will battle it out in the three-match Test series. Pakistan, having defeated Australia recently in the same format will be high on confidence. They would look to carry the momentum forward and bag this series as well.

Since April, New Zealand haven’t played any Test cricket. Their players are well rested while a few participated in various T20 leagues around the world. Hence, the Blackcaps are short on practice and expect them to be slightly rusty in the opening encounter. But, having accustomed to the conditions by now, they will want to give some stern competition in this format as well.

Team Combinations

Pakistan

Pakistan will open the innings with Imam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Hafeez. Azhar Ali, Harris Sohail, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam and Bilal Asif will continue to bat in the middle-order. Sarfraz will lead the side and also don the gloves. Yasir Shah and Mohammad Abbas are a certainty in the bowling line-up. It would be a toss-up between Mir Hamza and Shaheen Afridi. If Afridi plays, it would be his Test debut.

Predicted XI: Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez, Azhar Ali, Harris Sohail, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Bilal Asif, Sarfraz Ahmed (C & wk), Yasir Shah, Mohammad Abbas, Shaheen Afridi/Mir Hamza.

New Zealand

New Zealand might not want to experiment much with their XI right in the first game. It could be the same XI that we usually see them field. However, there is a decision to make over the inclusion of William Somerville in place of Colin de Grandhomme to add more weight to their spin attack.

Predicted XI: Tom Latham, Jeet Raval, Kane Williamson (C), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling (wk), Colin de Grandhomme/William Somerville, Ish Sodhi, Neil Wagner, Tim Southee, Trent Boult.

Focus will be on

Mohammad Abbas (Pakistan)

Abbas is in the middle of a sensational run. Last month, he picked up 17 wickets in the two-match series against Australia. There’s no reason why he will find it difficult to repeat such a performance against the Kiwis. Abbas is the biggest threat to New Zealand and they should have their set of plans to deal with him well.

Ross Taylor (New Zealand)

Taylor looked to be the most fluent of the Kiwis batsmen in the limited-overs series. Being a good player of spin is a great advantage for him and he has enough experience of playing in these conditions. Taylor could be the perfect man for New Zealand in the middle-order to anchor the innings while the other batsmen, bat around him.

Stat Attack

25 – Mohammad Abbas has 25 wickets in 4 Tests in the UAE.

Broadcast Details

TV – Sony Six and Sony Six HD

Live Streaming – Sony LIV

Match Timings – 11:30 IST; 10:00 local

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