Another series victory at home is in the pipeline as New Zealand face Pakistan in the second test match in Christchurch.
The hosts won the first match by 101 runs. It was their fifth win in a row. Kane Williamson, BJ Watling, and Ross Taylor were the stars with the bat. All their bowlers delivered in tandem.
Pakistan's top-order failed miserably. Fawad Alam scored a sparkling century in the second innings. Skipper, Mohammad Rizwan scored half-centuries in both the innings.
New Zealand will miss pacer, Neil Wagner who will be out of action for at least 5 to 6 weeks due to two fractured toes. Matt Henry has been announced as his replacement.
Though Babar Azam took part in the training session, he has still not retained 100% fitness to play this test match. Opener, Shan Masood looks woefully out of form and the visitors can hand Imran Butt his test debut.
Pitch and Conditions
Christchurch is a bowler-friendly pitch and the pacers can get more assistance with both movement and reverse swing on offer. Rains are not predicted on any of the five days and clear weather is expected. More runs can be piled if the batsmen stick partnerships together. Pakistan lost a test match in this venue in 2016.
Probable Playing XI
New Zealand (NZ): Tom Latham, Tom Blundell, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling, Mitchell Santner, Kyle Jamieson, Tim Southee, Matt Henry, Trent Boult
Pakistan (Pak): Shan Masood/Imran Butt, Abid Ali, Azhar Ali, Haris Sohail, Fawad Alam, Mohammad Rizwan, Faheem Ashraf, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Abbas, Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah
Ross Taylor (NZ) vs Shaheen Afridi (Pak)
Taylor looked comfortable with a splendid knock of 70 in the first innings. He possesses a free-wheeling style of strokeplay pleasing to the eyes. He is a vital cog in the middle order and can adapt to different situations with his strong determination and unorthodox technique. He is a crisis man in tough situations and can dismantle any attack when he is in full flow.
Afridi took four wickets in the first innings including that of Taylor. The youngster can bowl really fast and has a lot of variations up his sleeve being a left-arm pacer. He is a deadly bowler, especially on moving pitches.
Tim Southee (NZ) vs Fawad Alam (Pak)
Alam scored his second test century after a decade in the last match. He played watchful innings against the quick bowlers. His strong technique and robust defence helped him survive the hostile conditions. He has continued piling up more runs just like his exploits in first-class cricket.
Southee took four wickets in the last match. He also crossed the 300-wicket milestone. His wily pace variations and the potent outswinger are his biggest strengths. He can bowl effectively both with the new ball and the old ball. Being a crafty bowler, he readjusts his line and length depending on the nature of the surface.
New Zealand has been unbeaten in the last 18 tests at home against Asian teams. A draw or a victory will take them to an eighth consecutive home series triumph and a bright possibility of a top-two finish in the ICC World Test Championship. Pakistan will have come out with a special batting performance and display dogged resistance to level the series.
Cricwizz predicts New Zealand to win the match and the series 2-0