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New Zealand will take on Pakistan in the first Test at Mount Maunganui on Saturday. The Kiwis had beaten Pakistan 2-1 in the recently concluded T20I series and will start favorites in the Test series.

New Zealand is also on a high on recent Test victories. They have blanked India and West Indies 2-0 in the last two-Test series, and are on a 4-match winning streak. They had beaten India 2-0 at home way back in February before the coronavirus pandemic put an end to all sporting activity across the world. And they whitewashed West Indies 2-0 by innings margin in both the Tests recently. Hence, New Zealand looks set to blank Pakistan 2-0 in the Test series on home conditions.

Pakistan are playing Test cricket after 4 months. They last played Test cricket in August when they lost the three-match Test series 1-0 in England. Hence, they could be rusty going into the Test match with a four-month gap. Besides, they will be without some of their key players, including regular captain Babar Azam due to injury, and that is going to hurt their chances in the Test match.

Match Toss Time: 10:30 Local (03:00 IST)

Match Start Time: 11:00 Local (03:30 IST)

Match Venue: Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui, Tauranga

Weather Report

It is expected to be bright and sunny on the first day of the Test match, with temperatures hovering around 12 degrees Celsius to 22 degrees Celsius. However, rain is forecasted on Sunday before the next three days could see cloudy weather. Hence, New Zealand will keep an eye on the weather when they face Pakistan on Saturday.

Pitch

The pitch would favor pace bowlers, but it would turn out good for batting as the match progresses. But the pacers would love to bowl here. In the only Test played here in 2019, New Zealand defeated England by an innings, with Kiwi pacers snaring all but 3 England wickets.

Team News

The good news is that Kane Williamson is back to lead the Test team after sitting out of the 2nd Test against West Indies due to the birth of his first child. Will Young is set to make way for him. New Zealand may be tempted to play Mitchell Santner hereafter the all-rounder scored a ton on this ground in the only Test held here. But Daryl Mitchell may be preferred over Santner.

Pakistan will be led by Mohammad Rizwan as regular captain Babar Azam is out due to injury. Pakistan will also miss Imam-ul-Haq and Shadab Khan due to injuries. A lot will rest on experienced batsman Azhar Ali to lead the fight against Kiwi bowlers. Pakistan pacers, especially  Shaheen Afridi, would love to have a go at one of the best Test teams, while spinner Yasir Shah would look to unleash his magic here.

Probable Playing XI

NZ: Tom Latham, Tom Blundell, Kane Williamson (captain), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling (wicketkeeper), Daryl Mitchell, Trent Boult, Kyle Jamieson, Neil Wagner, and Tim Southee.

Pak: Abid Ali, Shan Masood, Azhar Ali, Fawad Alam, Mohammad Rizwan (captain and wicketkeeper), Faheem Ashraf, Haris Sohail, Yasir Shah, Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah, and Mohammad Abbas.

NZ vs Pak Fantasy Team

NZ vs Pak Fantasy Team
Cricwizz Fantasy Team

Kane Williamson (NZ), Henry Nicholls (NZ), Abid Ali (Pak), Azhar Ali (Pak), Mohammad Rizwan (Pak), Faheem Ashraf (Pak), Daryl Mitchell (NZ), Tim Southee (NZ), Kyle Jamieson (NZ),  Trent Boult (NZ), Shaheen Afridi (Pak)

Captain picks: Kane Williamson (NZ), Kyle Jamieson (NZ)

Vice-captain picks: Tim Southee (NZ), Azhar Ali (Pak)

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