Dubai preview: Pakistan v New Zealand
New Zealand have their work cut out for them in the second Test against Pakistan in Dubai, after capitulating painfully in Abu Dhabi and handing the hosts even more confidence with bat and ball.
Pakistan won the first encounter by 248 runs, and aside from a fractured skull to Ahmed Shehzad, emerged unscathed. To be fair, that's a fairly big loss, as the opener had scored 176 at the time, and was ruled out of the series.
He was not replaced in the squad as Pakistan named an unchanged group. The day before he game it emerged that Pakistan could also be without Mohammad Hafeez due to a hamstring injury, so the opening pair is uncertain.
But at least the runs have been spread out for the top order in recent weeks, with Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq in superb for, while Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq have not been slouches either. The Kiwis had few answers against them in Abu Dhabi.
With Hafeez out of commission, the bowling attack is slightly weaker but not much. He had been reported for chucking, so how much he would have bowled was up for debate anyway. With Zulfiqur Babar and Yasir Shah playing, all is well on the spin front.
The Black Caps need to find a way to keep their wickets, after falling for low totals in the first game. Only Tom Latham impressed with a century, but got little help from the rest of the order, as they were baffled by the spin.
This deck doesn't spin as much as you'd think, and much like Abu Dhabi, batting on it is pleasant once well set. Corey Anderson, who damaged Shehzad, was impressive with the bat, and will want to show his Test worth again.
It's not tough to see a two-nil lead resulting though, as Pakistan have made these UAE venues their fortresses, though have played much of their recent victories in front of empty stadia.
For the hosts, all eyes will be on Younis Khan. He is one of the leading run scorers in Tests this year, and Pakistan have declared their last five innings thanks to him, for the most part.
The Kiwis need Kane Richardson to come to the party with the bat. He's probably their most talented batsman, and one of the better players of spin, and he'll need to demonstrate this if his side is to stand a chance.
Last Five Head-To-Head Results
2014, First Test: Pakistan won by 248 runs in Abu Dhabi
2011: Second Test: Match drawn in Wellington
2011: First Test: Pakistan won by 10 wickets in Hamilton
2009: Third Test: Match drawn in Napier
2009: Second Test: Pakistan won by 141 runs in Wellington
Pakistan: Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali, Ehsan Adil, Haris Sohail, Imran Khan, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Talha, Rahat Ali, Sarfraz Ahmed (wicketkeeper), Shan Maqsood, Taufeeq Umar, Yasir Shah, Younis Khan, Zulfiqar Babar
New Zealand: Hamish Rutherford, Tom Latham, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Brendon McCullum (captain), Corey Anderson, BJ Watling (wicketkeeper), Luke Ronchi, Jimmy Neesham, Mark Craig, Tim Southee, Doug Bracewell, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult, Ish Sodhi.
Dates: 17-21 November
Morning session: 10:00-12:00 (06:00-08:00 GMT)
Afternoon session:</b> 12:40-14:40 (08:40-10:40 GMT)
Evening session:</b> 15:00-17:00 (11:00-13:00 GMT)
On-field umpires: Ranmore Martinesz and Paul Reiffel
Third umpire: Rod Tucker
Match referee: Andy Pycroft
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