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November 16, 2018

All eyes on Abbas, Yasir as Pakistan look to tame NZ


November 16, 2018

KARACHI: When Pakistan defeated Australia 1-0 in their two-match Test series in the UAE earlier this season, it was their lethal pacer Mohammad Abbas, who did most of the damage.

The hosts are confident that Abbas will once again be in his element to give them an edge over New Zealand when the three-Test series begins at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi from Friday (today).

Abbas, who took 17 wickets in the two-Test series against the Aussies, and leggie Yasir Shah were both singled out by Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed as his team’s most potent weapons. Yasir was not at his brilliant best against Australia against whom he took eight wickets in two Tests.

“Yes, our bowling attack is good,” Sarfraz told reporters on Thursday.“Abbas has been bowling superbly while Yasir didn’t look as great as we had expected, but in this series I expect more from Yasir,” he said.

Yasir took 15 wickets in the 1-1 series draw against New Zealand in the UAE in 2014.But Pakistan have not beaten New Zealand in a Test series since 2011, and Sarfraz is not taking them lightly.

“New Zealand are a good side and gave us tough times both in the Twenty20s and One-day Internationals,” said Sarfraz of the preceding series.Pakistan crushed New Zealand 3-0 in Twenty20s while their one-day series was shared 1-1 after the third match ended in a no result due to rain in Dubai.

Pakistan will resist the temptation of playing the newest pace sensation, Shaheen Afridi, whose nine wickets earned him man-of-the-series in ODIs.Abbas is likely to share the new ball with Hasan Ali with Yasir and Asif assisted by Mohammad Hafeez in spin.

New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson, who returns to the squad after missing the third one-day with a groin strain, hopes his team adapt fast.“Obviously, coming into Pakistan’s home series there is a lot of work to do in terms of the overseas sides adapting to the conditions as best as they can,” said Williamson.

“I think it’s important that we adapt with this inexperienced side that we have come here with and look to learn as we can and do that quickly because we want to be playing our best cricket under these conditions.”

Williamson admitted the threats from Abbas and Yasir.“They both are outstanding bowlers and bowling well for a long time. Abbas, ever since he entered international cricket, is bowling superbly around the world,” said Williamson.

New Zealand are likely to hand a debut to left-armer Ajaz Patel, who is set to partner either off-spinner Will Somerville or leg-spinner Ish Sodhi.New Zealand also have a strong pace attack with Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner and Matt Henry to chose from.

The second Test is in Dubai (November 24-28) and the third, again in Abu Dhabi (December 3-7).

Teams (from):

Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Mohammad Hafeez, Imam-ul-Haq, Azhar Ali, Haris Sohail, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Saad Ali, Yasir Shah, Bilal Asif, Mohammad Abbas, Hassan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Faheem Ashraf, Mir Hamza

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (captain), Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Jeet Raval, Ish Sodhi, Will Somerville, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner. —with inputs from agencies

Today’s Fixture

Pakistan vs New Zealand

11:00 am PST

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