Cricket

1st Test: New Zealand vs Pakistan – Match Preview

With the T20I done, the focus now moves on to Test series with both sides are preparing for 1st Test match.

The hosts, New Zealand, have been very dominating in their home Test matches. They are yet to lose a home match in their last 15 Test matches. The last time they lost a home Test match was against South Africa in 2017, where the Proteas won 1-0.

Since then, New Zealand have played seven series and won all seven. One more fact is that they have won the match by an innings seven times out of 15 matches! The pace trio of Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Neil Wagner along with the latest addition in Kyle Jamieson will be a threat to Pakistan batsmen. The hosts will be looking to continue their dominance in the 1st Test.

New Zealand are unbeaten in their last 15 home Test matches (Photo: Getty Images)

Pakistan meanwhile, who will be without Babar Azam once again, will again be looking to the find the right combination. The injuries to Babar, Imam ul-Haq and Shadab Khan has been a blow. The top order will be looking to regroup and will work on the right combination before the beginning of the 1st Test.

In the practice match, likely openers Shan Masood and Abid Ali failed to get going. Azhar Ali showed some resistance but the positives came from Fawad Alam, who scored a brilliant 139 to help Pakistan post a total in which they defended and won the match by 89 runs.

Haris Sohail will likely be slotted in Babar’s place with the stand in captain Rizwan at 6. If Pakistan batsmen, who have lost 4 out of their 5 Test match against New Zealand, will step up and score runs, the bowlers will have some fun to bowl at the Kiwis. The Test series could become very interesting.

Match Details:

Date: December 26, 2020

Timing: 03:00 AM PKT

Venue: Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui

Weather: The weather is expected to be fine in the first four days of the game with the fifth day is expected for rain.

Conditions / Pitch Report: Only one Test match as been host here where the hosts won by an innings against England last year. It showed some good swing, but also a good batting pitch. How bowlers will bowl is the key at this match.

Head to Head:

Matches: 58 | New Zealand: 12 | Pakistan: 25 | Drawn: 21

Form Guide:

New Zealand: W W W W L (Most recent first)

Pakistan: D D L W W

Team News:

1. New Zealand

A well-rested string New Zealand side will likely to take the field tomorrow with six regular batsmen, an all rounder and four fast bowlers.

New Zealand’s Probable XI:

1. Tom Latham, 2. Tom Blundell, 3. Kane Williamson (C), 4. Ross Taylor, 5. Henry Nicholls, 6. BJ Watling (WK)7. Daryl Mitchell, 8. Kyle Jamieson, 9. Tim Southee, 10. Neil Wagner, 11. Trent Boult

2. Pakistan

Babar Azam, Imam ul-Haq and Shadab Khan were ruled out of the first Test. This means that left-hand batting all rounders Haris Sohail and Fawad Alam will join the top order. Faheem Ashraf will likely to play at 7. There is one place uncertain though, is whether will Pakistan go with 4 pacers and Yasir Shah or 5 pacers including Sohail Khan. That will be answered in the 1st Test.

Pakistan’s Probable XI:

1. Abid Ali, 2. Shan Masood, 3. Azhar Ali 4. Fawad Alam, 5. Haris Sohail, 6. Mohammad Rizwan (C, WK), 7. Faheem Ashraf, 8. Yasir Shah/ Sohail Khan, 9. Shaheen Afridi, 10. Mohammad Abbas, 11. Naseem Shah

Is Rizwan's performance a threat to Sarfaraz's test career?

Mohammad Rizwan will lead Pakistan in the first Test (Photo: AFP)

Players to watch:

1. Henry Nicholls, Batsman – New Zealand

Since the start of 2018, Henry Nicholls scored 1,236 runs and averages 51.50 in the certain period. He has been New Zealand’s third highest run-scorer. In New Zealand’s last Test series against Pakistan in 2018, he scored 287 runs at an average of 57.40. In the series decider, when New Zealand were trailing by 74 runs, he returned the score of 126 not out. His contribution went unnoticed as captain Williamson’s 139 as well as 89 in the first innings help New Zealand win a historical series against Pakistan. Personally, he enjoys batting against Pakistan.

2. Mohammad Abbas, Bowler – Pakistan 

New Zealand conditions will be no stranger to Abbas, who enjoyed bowling in such conditions; namely England and Ireland where he averages just 17.95. Abbas has been brilliant with his simple line and length and extracts that seam movement that troubles the batsmen. If he can concentrate on these, he will be New Zealand’s biggest threat.

3. Kyle Jamieson, Bowling All-rounder – New Zealand

A newbie who made his debut against India, Kyle Jamieson quickly made his name in New Zealand’s red ball side. In his short career so far, Jamieson averages 54.67 with the bat and 14.55 with the bowl. In his debut series against India earlier this year, he played an all important role to help his side whitewash the number one Test team. He scored 93 runs at 46 and took 9 at 16.33. He can be handy with the bat and has a good bowling action that generates seams. Pakistan better be vary.

4. Azhar Ali, Batsman – Pakistan

Without Babar Azam and Asad Shafiq on this tour, eyes will be on Azhar Ali the senior player in the side. In his last Test match as a captain, he scored a vital 141* to help Pakistan draw the third game. Now removed as a captain, Azhar scored 58 and 27 in the practice game. Mind you, he averages about 27 in New Zealand. Azhar will need to stand up for his side and help them post a total where bowlers can bowl something at.

Stats and Trivia:

  • Mohammad Rizwan will become Pakistan’s 33rd Test captain when he will lead his side tomorrow.
  • New Zealand have not lost their last 15 home matches, a streak stretching back in 2017.
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