New Zealand v Pakistan, 3rd Test, Napier December 8, 2009

Chris Martin backs batsmen to deliver

Cricinfo staff
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Chris Martin has expressed confidence in New Zealand's struggling batting line-up ahead of the series decider in Napier, starting on Friday.

New Zealand squandered their 1-0 lead in Wellington, losing by 141 runs, as their batsmen failed to measure up to an impressive display by Pakistan's bowlers. They were bowled out for 99 in the first innings to concede a massive lead, and managed 263 in the second with their top order failing yet again.

Martin admitted his team's batsmen were under pressure to perform. "Most of the guys know this is a challenging moment in the series and their careers," he said. "These guys were under pressure coming into the series, they're still under pressure, they just need to get some runs."

New Zealand have made one change to their squad for the third Test, drafting in BJ Watling, who is likely to make his debut, in place of Peter Fulton, who's had a poor run. Barring Ross Taylor, only one other batsman in the top six has managed a half-century. But Martin acknowledged it was difficult to make sweeping changes to the line-up in the middle of a series. "It's a tough call to pull your basic core of batters out of the side when you're three-quarters of the way through a series," he said. "It's difficult at times, but the team we've got at the moment, we all can look at each other in the eye pretty genuinely.

"We all know we're giving 100%. As difficult as it is to lose, we're sticking together."

Martin praised Mohammad Asif, who has been the best of the Pakistan bowlers: in two Tests he has taken 17 wickets, marking an excellent comeback after serving a one-year ban. "At the moment there's a guy bowling quite well to them and exposing a few weaknesses here and there," Martin said. "He exposing us because we're getting caught on the crease and not getting forward.

"We've got four days to work that out and turn up with a fresh and keener state of mind to attack him a little bit differently."

The track in Napier has traditionally favoured big scores. Four of the last five Tests here have been draws. India played New Zealand in the most recent Test at the venue, and batted more than two days to save the Test after following on. Martin believed the pitch would offer New Zealand's batsmen a great opportunity to return to form. "There's always plenty of runs (in Napier). There's plenty of toil for the bowlers," Martin said.

"There's a few individuals who will want hundreds, that's what we've been missing in this series so far. Napier is the perfect opportunity for that to come true."