Boult sets sight on 200-plus target
As high as the totals have been in the first innings of UAE Tests recently, the wear on the Dubai pitch and how it will only increase makes Trent Boult believe setting a target in excess of 200 is optimum.
An aim like that seemed quite difficult with Younis Khan and Azhar Ali shepherding the Pakistan line-up with their fifth fifty-plus score in seven innings, but New Zealand bounced back from a wicketless session on the second morning to dismiss both half-centurions and snap up some late wickets to go into the fourth day with a 122-run advantage, and only four more Pakistan batsmen to get rid of.
"As we can see what the wicket's doing, how it's deteriorating, it's going to be a challenge to score 200-plus with whatever time's left," Boult said. "And if we can focus on that and then leave them as much time as possible [for us to get 10 wickets], I guess that's the focus so come day four, day five, it should be a tricky wicket to bat on"
Besides an impressive chase of 302 by Pakistan in Sharjah in January, the next best total to achieve victory in the country is 137 by Sri Lanka during the same series. Pakistan though hold the record for the highest total made in the fourth innings in Dubai and have handled Ish Sodhi and Mark Craig well enough. But Boult is confident New Zealand's frontline would be able rise to the challenge.
"They've had a big role to fill the whole time and I think they're really standing up," Boult said. "Ish bowled superbly today, I reckon. The best I've seen it come out of his hand in a long time so the more the wicket deteriorates and breaks up even more then obviously they're going to become more important"
For the spinners to flourish, though, Boult said he and the other seamers had to stifle the batsmen at their ends.
"But obviously the likes of myself and Tim [Southee], Corey [Anderson], Neesh [James Neesham] are important as well. We've got to come in and build that pressure to really support their spinners"