Pakistan vs New Zealand, 2nd Test, Preview: Sarfraz Ahmed and Co. under pressure to level the series
The visitors have a rare chance of sealing an away series victory.
Published - Nov 23, 2018 3:48 pm
Updated - Nov 23, 2018 3:48 pm
When the fourth day’s play in Abu Dhabi begun, very few would’ve thought that Pakistan will be lagging in the three-match Test series. The hosts are in the unlikely territory going into the second game in Dubai and will be certainly under pressure. To add to their agony, their previous encounter at the venue wasn’t encouraging either, with Australia managing eke out a draw and the pitch refusing to break on the fifth day as well.
Having said that, Sarfraz Ahmed and his troops will back themselves to put up an improved show. Apart from a botched up chase, they thoroughly dominated the first Test and hard lessons must’ve learnt after the defeat. The bowlers are consistently doing their job but the batsmen have to consistently support them which is what the coach Mickey Arthur must have stressed in the team meetings.
There is a completely different atmosphere in the other camp. New Zealand were extremely tidy with the ball in both the innings and their whole bowling attack delivered as a unit. However, they will have to be wary of batting collapses on these turning pitches in Asia. They now have a chance to seal a rare away Test series and what better than doing it with one game to go!
The pitch at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium will also be under the scanner which didn’t favour the home side the last time around.
For Pakistan, it will only about the mindset they will go in with for his game. They don’t need to make any changes in the line-up and the team management would back a similar unit to make amends for a poor effort in Abu Dhabi. Imam-ul-Haq will be under pressure to perform after failing in the previous encounter while Azhar Ali found some form in the fourth innings. Mohammad Hafeez will also be in focus as he has also made low scores after announcing his comeback.
Yasir Shah and Bilal Asif will be expected to make inroads with the latter expected to improve his show as well. Mohammad Abbas had a rare off game by his standards but he is a champion bowler and Hasan Ali is also a dangerous bowler as reverse swing will definitely come into play.
Probable XI: Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez, Azhar Ali, Haris Sohail, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed (c & wk), Bilal Asif, Yasir Shah, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Abbas.
There is no reason to change the winning the combination for the visitors. Their spinners Ajaz Patel and Ish Sodhi were brilliant and consistently struck. Also, the pacer brought them back in the match after a poor effort with the bat in the first innings. The likes of Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor should look to play a long innings while the others can just play around them. Tim Southee will continue to sit on the sidelines it seems.
Probable XI: Jeet Raval, Tom Latham, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling (wk), Colin de Grandhomme, Ish Sodhi, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult, Ajaz Patel.
Focus will be on
Azhar Ali (Pakistan)
Azhar Ali, the senior pro in the side, failed to get his team over the line after getting so close and that will be playing on his mind big time. However, what many missed out on that fourth day was that he has found his form back and it is a good news for Pakistan. If Azhar manages to find his groove early, he will surely make the Kiwis field for long. Much will depend on him if the hosts are hoping to level the series.
Tom Latham (New Zealand)
Tom Latham scored 13 and 0 in the series opener and frankly, a lot is expected of him given the fact that the left-hander is an exceptional player of spin bowling. He was found wanting against the pace bowlers surprisingly and the opposition will come under immense pressure if he gets set. Latham’s ability to rotate the strike against the spinners makes him one of the best batsmen in New Zealand’s current line-up and he might give Pakistan tough time in this game.
Head to Head
Matches – 56 | Pakistan won – 24 | New Zealand won – 11| Draw – 21
11 – For the first time in his 11-Test career, Mohammad Abbas went wicketless in an innings in Abu Dhabi.
TV – Sony Ten 2 and Sony Ten 2 HD
Live Streaming – Sony LIV
Match Timings – 11:30 IST; 10:00 local