Pakistan in New Zealand 2009-10 November 15, 2009

Yousuf worried by early summer pitches

Cricinfo staff

Pakistan captain Mohammad Yousuf has said the bowler-friendly pitches in the early part of the summer in New Zealand will be one of the biggest challenges for his team during the three Tests, starting November 24. Pakistan set foot in the country having just finished the one-day and Twenty20 leg of the series in in the heat of UAE.

"The fact is we are going to New Zealand when the season has not started there properly and the weather will also be cold," Yousuf told AFP. "I think we are going to encounter seaming wickets and batting on them will be a big challenge for us."

The coach Intikhab Alam concurred with Yousuf and hoped his players will be able to adjust to the conditions. Looking at the composition of the Test squad, Intikhab said the bowlers were capable of taking 20 wickets but the batting needed a bit of attention. A series of batting collapses were primarily responsible for their 2-0 defeat in Sri Lanka in August.

"Our batting must click and show improvement because it will be tough to switch from one-day and Twenty20," Intikhab said. "Our bowling has the capacity to bowl New Zealand out twice but we must put runs on the board first."

He expected Daniel Vettori, the New Zealand captain, to be the biggest threat, especially if the pitches suit spin. Vettori has been the team's best all-round player in the recent past and has shouldered plenty of responsibility in all departments.

"Vettori is a seasoned player and we have to play him well, without giving him too many wickets," Intikhab said. "But if New Zealand prepares wickets conducive to spin then we too have quality spinners in Saeed Ajmal and Danish Kaneria."

Pakistan were hit by the sudden withdrawal of Younis Khan, who quit the captaincy and opted out of the tour because he wanted a break from the game. Intikhab and Yousuf agreed that Younis' absence will be felt, despite his run of poor form.

"Naturally, Younis is a senior batsman and although he has been in poor batting form, he is a world-class player who can come good any time, but you miss players through injuries as well and Younis' replacement will have a chance to prove his worth, " Alam said.

The tour begins with a three-day game in Queenstown on Wednesday before the first Test in Dunedin.

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