You take 27 wickets between you in your last Test series together - in just two Tests mind you, because that's just the way it is for you, 10 of your last 14 Test series having been two-Test series. That was all of seven months ago.

But you come to the UAE and the first thing they do is break you up. We can do with one of you, but not both. The UAE's just not cut that way.

Hang on. We're talking about 360 wickets in 45 Tests together, and over 400 Test wickets if you put career hauls together and you're saying one of us has to be benched?


Alright, fine. No drama.

And so New Zealand stuck with Trent Boult and did not play Tim Southee in the first two Tests of this series. And, if results are the way to judge such decisions, it's difficult to say for sure they were wrong in doing it, even if New Zealand lost one of those Tests by an innings and were one hit from losing the other.

What it definitely is, however, is no big deal. They've been doing it in Asia for a while now. Since Boult's debut at the end of 2011, New Zealand have played 15 Tests in Asia. Boult has played all of them, but Southee only seven.

Imagine if we weren't talking about Boult and Southee but some other pair, a pair as established as these two. England have only lately become comfortable with the idea that James Anderson and Stuart Broad can be broken up in Asia. South Africa never thought to break up Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, or Steyn and Vernon Philander. Australia don't break up Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood if they can help it.

Most wickets as a fast-bowling pair in Tests, since 2010
Pair Mats Wkts Ave 5-fors 10WM
 Anderson-Broad  89  704  25.66  31  5
 Steyn-Morkel  47  397  23.96  19  2
 Boult-Southee  45  360  27.6  11  2
 Steyn-Philander  37  307  21.5  18  3
 Starc-Hazlewood  29  266  24.56  13  1

Now you could argue those other pairs are just better, more unbreakable. New Zealand's results aren't great in those 15 Tests - just three wins and eight losses. And there was no need to break up Steyn and Morkel or Philander, because at their best they turned South Africa into a very good side in Asia.

But it's worth noting the lack of fuss around this decision. This is easily New Zealand's best bowling pair ever and yet it's absolutely fine to break them up. Remember how they didn't play either of them at any stage of the World T20 in 2016, despite both being in the squad? You can't imagine it happening anywhere else, because New Zealand have a way of doing big things with little fuss.

It feeds into how overlooked the two are as a pair, just as so much about New Zealand's cricket often is, from Kane Williamson to BJ Watling to Neil Wagner, himself dropped for this game, despite his heroics as recently as the first Test. Every now and again, when they roll over a big side (England, looking at you here and here) or at a World Cup, they'll be feted. Somebody will say they're the best new-ball pair in the world. But sooner or later, New Zealand will disappear off the radar once again.

At home
Pair Mats Wkts Ave 5-fors 10WM
 Anderson-Broad  54  472  23.31  23  5
 Steyn-Morkel  24  217  22.63  11  1
 Boult-Southee  22  198  25.73  5  1
 Steyn-Philander  19  180  19.25  12  2
 Hazlewood-Starc  15  146  26.12  5  0

Maybe it's more accurate to say that they're not always celebrated as a pair. Both are recognised as very good bowlers in their own right but their coupling comes as an afterthought and not an accompaniment, in the same way that it would be when talking about either of Anderson and Broad, or the Ws, or Ambrose and Walsh, or Pollock and Donald, or Steyn and Morkel or Philander. Maybe you think they shouldn't be talked about in this company but this isn't about how they measure up as much as how they don't come across as conjoined as the others.

But then, now that we are here, how do they measure up? Sticking to just the last decade, not too shabbily. Their total wickets (divided almost identically: Boult has 188 at 26.50, Southee 172 at 28.71, the former six five-fors and one ten-for, the latter five five-fors and also one ten-for) put them behind Anderson and Broad, but ahead of Steyn-Philander and they are set to go beyond Steyn-Morkel as well.

At home they have a slightly better average than the pairing of Starc and Hazlewood; away, they average better than Anderson-Broad. Not as prolific as Anderson-Broad, nor as destructive as Steyn-Philander and if that isn't exactly praise, neither is it a way of cutting them down. That is elite company and normcore as they are, they're not out of place in it. Give them some grass and they're up there.

Away from home
Pair Mats Wkts Ave 5-fors 10WM
 Anderson-Broad  35  232  30.44  8  0
 Steyn-Morkel  23  180  25.57  8  1
 Boult-Southee  23  163  29.85  6  1
 Steyn-Philander  18  127  24.70  6  1
 Starc-Hazlewood  14  123  22.73  8  1

And New Zealand are quite happy with what they have at their disposal "I know we look at them and say they've had fantastic careers so far," BJ Watling said. "Broad and Anderson are two of the greats and the fact is that they've played twice as many Tests. In my head, they're brilliant and we wouldn't change them for anyone."

Today wasn't the most obvious day for it, a slow-moving, cagey wrestle for control between bat and ball, on a slow surface. But in a way it was exactly the day for it. Southee's return meant the pair began, by cute coincidence, on exactly the same number of Test wickets: 220 each. By the day's end, Boult was one ahead, though cuter still was the fact that Southee was the catcher for both of the edges Boult induced from Pakistan's openers.

Southee was rusty to start, looking not unlike someone who hadn't played a Test in seven months. He was taken off after four overs, straying in his lines, but he didn't throw a strop. He wasn't indulged as fast bowlers sometimes should be, and there probably won't be any whispers either about a strike bowler coming off so early, and not even for a spinner, but for Colin de Grandhomme. In the afternoon, Southee came back better, settling into the same groove that Boult has been in all series. The wicket was a bonus.

All great bowling pairs have worked off some element of friction, no matter how thin. Not everyone can thrive individually or as a pair while maintaining as dysfunctional a relationship as Wasim and Waqar, but even Anderson and Broad, who have a good relationship off the field, have something going on. "There's not really, I don't think, though maybe there is subconsciously," Anderson told Derek Pringle once, when asked whether there was a bit of a rivalry between them.

These two? They're friends off the field, have come through together in age-group cricket, live close to each other and were born seven months apart. It's impossible to imagine any friction here.

Whatever dynamic it is, it's worked and will be very much in play over the next three days.

Osman Samiuddin is a senior editor at ESPNcricinfo