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Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Pakistan seek positive approach on spicy track

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Fernando: Henry, a good back-up for Boult (1:26)

Andrew Fernando previews the second Test between New Zealand and Pakistan (1:26)

Match facts

November 25-29, 2016
Start time 1100 local (2200 GMT)

Big Picture

While tawny Asian pitches can still prompt outrage and consternation, tracks coloured a lurid, nausea-inducing green have quietly become a New Zealand trademark. The response from most touring sides has been perfectly even-handed. "These are their home conditions," is the consensus. "We just have to play on what we get."

On the eve of the Test, Hamilton's track has as much grass as the pitch did in Christchurch, and as the air is warmer up north, the ball may swing more here, as well as seam. Word around the ground is that the toss may also prove significant; teams that have won it in the last four Tests have inserted the opposition. They have always wound up victorious.

It is the batting that gave Pakistan most cause for concern in Christchurch and, as can often be the case with batsmen in unfamiliar conditions, they veered between extreme approaches - too loose in the first innings, too tight in the second. Now they are preaching the "get runs, before the good ball gets you" philosophy that has recently found credence on tough tracks. They will also want to take the game deep - it is legspinner Yasir Shah who has most consistently wrenched matches open for them, and it is the quality of his spin that marks the visitors' clearest advantage over New Zealand.

The hosts are without Trent Boult for the first time in over three years, but have the firepower of Matt Henry sliding in to replace him. With a win behind them, and a damp surface underfoot again, banished is talk of the dusty whitewash in India, even if the batsmen haven't all reclaimed their form just yet.

They remain wary of Pakistan's propensity to work out foreign conditions, and hit back after losses, but will be happier with the forecast than the visitors. Rain is expected on the first day, and may continue, in patches, all through the weekend. Less sunshine, means less evaporation, means less turn off the pitch for Yasir.

Form guide

(last five completed matches, most recent first)
New Zealand: WLLLL
Pakistan: LLWWW

In the spotlight

Tim Macintosh, Jamie How, Peter Ingram, Martin Guptill, Hamish Rutherford, Michael Papps, Craig Cumming - just pick any Anglo-Saxon first name and there will have been a modest New Zealand opener that answered to it, over the last ten years. The latest man to take guard is Gujarat-born Jeet Raval. Stylish and composed in his debut outing, and emerging with the highest match aggregate on a difficult pitch, Raval knows Pakistan will have better plans for him in this Test. If he is effective again in Hamilton, he will raise hopes that he can break the great New Zealand openers' curse.

With long-term collaborator Misbah-ul-Haq now out of the picture, the middle-order batting/recovery responsibilities fall heavily on the shoulders of Younis Khan. There are mild whispers he is no longer his old self on sporting pitches, but surely this is premature; the man has scores of 218 and 127 and 51 in his last seven innings. Nevertheless, such is life in international sport when you reach a certain age. Pakistan will look to him for leadership in this match. After three consecutive single-figure scores, Younis will want a big score more than anyone.

Teams news

In addition to Henry, Mitchell Santner appears likely to play - displacing Todd Astle. The top order will likely remain unchanged after Ross Taylor was cleared to play.

New Zealand (probable) 1. Jeet Raval, 2 Tom Latham, 3 Kane Williamson (capt.), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Henry Nicholls, 6 Colin de Grandhomme, 7 BJ Watling (wk), 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Neil Wagner, 11 Matt Henry

On a spicy surface, Pakistan have hinted they prefer Mohammad Rizwan over Sharjeel Khan. As a bonus, Rizwan can also fit into the middle order without causing changes elsewhere. Rahat Ali took 4 for 62 in the first innings at Christchurch, but looks likeliest to miss out if Wahab Riaz enters the fray.

Pakistan (probable) 1 Sami Aslam, 2 Azhar Ali (capt.), 3 Babar Azam, 4 Younis Khan, 5 Mohammad Rizwan, 6 Asad Shafiq, 7 Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), 8 Wahab Riaz, 9 Yasir Shah, 10 Mohammad Amir, 11 Sohail Khan

Pitch and conditions

Green and damp on this occasion, Hamilton has seen bounce, turn, reverse swing and conventional swing, at different points over the past few years, so it is difficult to know what to expect. Unless rain washes out several sessions, a result appears likely, though.

Stats and trivia

  • Until this match, Trent Boult had not missed a New Zealand Test since early 2012 - he had played in 44 on the trot.

  • New Zealand have lost three of their last five Tests at Seddon Park - they beat West Indies and Sri Lanka, and lost to Australia, Pakistan and South Africa

  • Mohammad Amir's 3 for 43 in the first innings at Hagley Oval was his best analysis since his return from suspension.

  • Pakistan have not lost a series since August 2014, when they were defeated 0-2 in Sri Lanka


Quotes

"I think it will swing more in Hamilton than in Christchurch, with the humidity."

New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor

"Younis has gone through a lot of times in his career like this - when he hasn't scored runs in the first match, but he always bounces back."

Pakistan batsman Asad Shafiq

End of a long streak

1985

Last time NZ won a Test series against Pak, before this 2-0 win. In 12 series in between, they had lost 7 and 5 were drawn.

Duck again

5

No. of ducks for Asad Shafiq in his last 13 Test innings, including today's. Before this, he had batted 49 consecutive innings without a duck.

Another century missed

6

No. of scores of 50 or more for Sami Aslam in his career of 17 Test innings, but he hasn't scored a century yet. His 50s - 82, 70, 90, 50, 74, 91.

Taylor's venue

4

No. of Test 100s for Ross Taylor in Hamilton - most by any batsman. No other player has scored more than 2 100s at the venue.

Ross relieved

11

No. of consecutive innings without a fifty for Ross Taylor, before scoring it in this inns. This is also his first fifty at home after 13 inns.

Rare at home

3

No. of 50+ scores for Latham in home Tests, including this in 18 innings. In Tests outside NZ, he has 13 such scores in 33 innings.

Worst sequence

5

Runs for Younis Khan in his last four Test innings - 0, 2, 1, 2. This is the first time he has scored less than 10 runs in any four consecutive innings in his career.

Some runs for Watling

32

Highest score for BJ Watling since the start of South Africa tour in 9 inns, before this. He has gone past that score in this inns. He averaged only 21.12 in those 9 inns

Spin-less

0

No. of instances of fast bowlers delivering all of the first 50 overs for Pakistan in a Test inns, since 2001. They introduced spin in the 54th over (Azhar Ali) of this inns.

Starting strong

3

No. of NZ openers to make a 50+ score in each of their career's first 2 Tests, including Jeet Raval. Bert Sutcliffe and Bruce Murray are the others.