It was an eventful 2020, at least for New Zealand. Their country is managed well, and that was evident in the manner New Zealand tackled the pandemic when the rest of the world had come to a dreadful halt. The nation, quite unmoved, dragged itself out of the global setback and slammed the tyrannical virus with admirable success. Much like the nation’s government, their cricketing team is also an epitome of perfection.
The entire 2020, New Zealand did not put a foot wrong, barring the third and last T20I encounter against Pakistan. Having put themselves into some serious contention for the World Test Championship final after their 2-0 clean sweep over West Indies last month, their nearest aim was to complement and emulate another similar victory over Pakistan.
And they quite appreciably managed to do that in the first Test. New Zealand no longer has a mere foot inside the door. They are gradually occupying space, and do not be surprised if they manage to occupy the largest corner of the room soon.
In Pakistan’s defence – who lost the first Test after showing a magnificent brand of attrition, they are severely depleted and dented by the absence of some of their mainstays, but none more crucial than Babar Azam, whose injury updates have upset Pakistan in instalments, and he is going to be as much unavailable in the last game of the tour as he has been in the recent past.
Despite the absence of as many as those that Pakistan has been missing, they can be content with the spirit their team showed at Mount Maunganui, where their 101-run loss does not even closely reflect the courage they showed. It would not be dignified to state that the visiting party is unfortunate to be against a work-horse like New Zealand, who just inexorably rack up Test series wins (especially, ever so ruthlessly if at home), but that indeed seems to be the case for any team playing New Zealand in their backyard.
More than that, Pakistan has too many holes in the ship currently to be plugged. And in all fairness, they did exceedingly well in the previous game, in not letting their ship drown completely despite having as many holes. A victory for them at Christchurch may seem unlikely, but to imagine that will certainly not be wishful thinking.
An eventful cricketing year for them is due, which will see quite a few nations visiting them. Can they set the tone for 2021 tomorrow? In 3 to 5 days, you will have the answer.
Pitch and conditions
A green pitch awaits the two teams, however, that will not mean complete ignorance for spinners. The record for the home side at the Hagley Oval infuses nothing but a promise. They have not lost a single match in 8 appearances thus far, and boast 6 wins and a draw. One of these six includes their 8-wicket victory over their immediate rivals in November 2016.
Playing combinations for NZ vs PAK
Not even a broken toe could stop Neil Wagner from bowling, and not just bowling but doing that for 49 overs, in the first Test. However, with him ruled out of action, Matt Henry has been included in the team, and he is set to feature. There is no other change expected in the hosts’ line up.
Probable XI: Tom Latham, Tom Blundell, Kane Williamson (C), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling (WK), Daryl Mitchell/Mitchell Santner, Trent Boult, Kyle Jamieson, Matt Henry, Tim Southee.
With a gap of 11 years between his first and second century, Fawad Alam would want to make most of this outing again. The absence of Babar Azam continues to pinch Pakistan, as the skipper has not recovered from his thumb injury yet and is unavailable. After a poor show by openers Abid Ali and Shan Masood in the previous game, Pakistan might want to give young Imran Butt a look-in.
Probable XI: Abid Ali, Shan Masood, Azhar Ali, Fawad Alam, Mohammad Rizwan (C & WK), Faheem Ashraf, Haris Sohail, Yasir Shah, Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah, Mohammad Abbas.
Head to Head NZ vs PAK
Played – 59 | NZ – 13 | PAK – 25 | Draw – 21
NZ vs PAK Broadcast Details
Match Timings- 3:30 AM (IST), 11:00 PM (Local)
Live Streaming– Fancode
Source: The source of this content is our cricket news platform Crictracker.
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