Chance to end dismal Test runs for both teams
They aren't quite at the bottom of the ICC Test rankings, but the three-Test series between seventh-ranked New Zealand and Pakistan, who are sixth, will be a battle between two teams struggling to make a mark in Test cricket in recent years. Pakistan have had an excellent time in the shorter versions of the game over the last few months, but their Test record in the last three years has been far from impressive. In five series they've lost four - to South Africa (twice), India and Sri Lanka - and drawn against Sri Lanka. During this period, they've won only one match out of 13 Tests, and lost six.
New Zealand's slump has lasted even longer, with only two series victories against the top teams (excluding Bangladesh and Zimbabwe) in the last seven years, during which they've lost 11 series and drawn five. The last of those series wins came against a struggling West Indies in March 2006. Since then they've lost seven out of nine series (against the top teams), and won two Tests out of 22.
The three-Test series in New Zealand, though, offers a good opportunity for Pakistan to arrest their slide. Historically, New Zealand has been an excellent venue for Pakistan: in ten visits (including one-off Tests), they've triumphed in six series and lost just once, in 1985, when Richard Hadlee was in his pomp. Since that series, Pakistan have won four out of six, including, most recently, in 2003, when they won a two-Test series 1-0.
The University Oval in Dunedin is a new venue, and has hosted only two Tests. New Zealand won the first one, against Bangladesh, and drew the other, against West Indies.
|Matches||Pak won||NZ won||Draw|
|In New Zealand||24||8||4||12|
|In New Zealand since 1990||10||6||2||2|
Since 1990, Pakistan have a 6-2 win-loss advantage in Tests in New Zealand. They've averaged more than 33 runs per wicket and conceded less than 29. The big difference has been in the five-fors: Pakistan have had 12, and New Zealand only five.
|Team||Tests||Won||Runs per wkt||100s/ 50s||5WI/ 10WM|
|Pakistan||10||6||33.35||10/ 22||12/ 3|
|New Zealand||10||2||28.80||8/ 18||5/ 0|
Among the batsmen who're in Pakistan's current squad, Mohammad Yousuf is the clear leader. In five Tests he averages 69.71,with one century and three fifties. Moin Khan and Faisal Iqbal have done well too, but Imran Farhat, the opener, has struggled, with only one score of more than 25 in eight innings.
|Mohammad Yousuf||5||488||69.71||1/ 3|
|Moin Khan||4||231||57.75||1/ 0|
|Faisal Iqbal||3||162||40.50||0/ 2|
|Imran Farhat||5||169||21.12||0/ 1|
New Zealand's captain, too, has an excellent batting record in home Tests against Pakistan - in four innings Vettori has scored 201 runs at an average of 67. However, in his stronger suit he has struggled against Pakistan, taking just four wickets in three Tests against them (both home and away) at an average of more than 100. It's also a measure of the skewed Test schedule that Vettori, in a career spanning 94 Tests and 12 years, has played only three Tests against Pakistan. For Brendon McCullum, who has already played 46 Tests, the Dunedin match will be his first Test against Pakistan.