Abu Dhabi: Pakistan and New Zealand go head-to-head in the first of three Tests in Abu Dhabi from Friday, 16 November with the odds firmly in favour of the home side.
Pakistan have had a good run in Test cricket in recent times, belying their seventh position in the MRF Tyres ICC Test Team Rankings – this year, they beat Ireland in Ireland, then drew a two-Test series in England, and have since won the two-Test series in the United Arab Emirates against Australia 1-0.
New Zealand might be the fourth-best team in the world at the moment, but considering Pakistan’s form and the fact that the Tests will be played in the UAE, the visitors start as underdogs.
The other new face in the squad is a more expected one – Shaheen Shah Afridi, has emerged as one of the most exciting young pacers lately, and was among the wickets in the T20Is and ODIs. He completes a pace line-up that has the incredible Mohammad Abbas, Mir Hamza, Hasan Ali and all-rounder Faheem Ashraf.
The rest of the squad are along expected lines, with a lot of experience in the batting with Azhar Ali, Mohammad Hafeez and Asad Shafiq, and Yasir Shah as the spin front-man.
Mohammad Abbas a total of 59 wickets from 10 Tests, including 17 in two Tests against Australia just the other day – 28-year-old Abbas is one of the finest pacers in the game today and definitely the one New Zealand must be wary of.
Ross Taylor -- experience matters – Taylor has all the pedigree, accumulated over 85 Test matches, and is in good form, as the 80 and 86* in the ODIs prove. He will have to be the pivot around which the batting revolves.
Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (c and wk), Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam, Bilal Asif, Faheem Ashraf, Haris Sohail, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Hafeez, Saad Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Yasir Shah
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (c), Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Jeet Raval, Ish Sodhi, William Somerville, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling (wk)
Pitch and conditions
The sun will be out, if a few clouds threaten, they might not for long.
Stats and triva
16-20 November, 2018
Start time 10:00am local (6:00am GMT)