After a thrilling end to Test format in 2020, Pakistan and New Zealand resume international cricket in 2021. New Zealand would eye 60 points to step closer to the World Test Championship, while, Pakistan will miss its captain Babar Azam for one more time.
Match Timings: Jan 03, 3:30 AM IST
International cricket in 2021 kick starts with the second Test match between New Zealand and Pakistan in Christchurch. Both sides had an intense game of cricket in Mount Maunganui and the game went into the final hour of the 5th day. Mitchell Santner picked a stunner to snatch the victory by 101 runs. The last wicket partnership hurt Kiwis and Santner broke this tense stand.
New Zealand equalised Australia on points in Test Rankings and after picking 60 more points, they have also tightened its position in Test Championship with 360 points. If they win here in Christchurch, Blackcaps will end its WTC campaign with 70 percent of points and they can back themselves for the final in Lord’s this year. Kane Williamson scored yet another century and Watling contributed 73 to post 431 in first innings. After taking the 192-runs lead, the openers put a good start to set a strong total for Pakistan. On the final day, Pakistan showed some resistance through Rizwan and Fawad Alam but New Zealand finished the game with six overs spare. It was a collective bowling effort for the hosts but they gonna miss its quality red-ball bowler Wagner due to a toe injury. Matt Henry will take his spot in the second Test. Williamson is now the number one Test batsman in ICC Rankings and the captain would try to finish the WTC campaign high. The Kiwi Test squad is strong and most balanced in the world. With a top-class batting unit led by the captain himself, the pace-attack also boosts its team combination. Jamieson, Southee, and Boult have been excellent in home-condition.
Meanwhile, Pakistan can take positive points from this defeat. The visitors are searching its first victory in SENA country for a long time and they came close on the final day. Fawad Alam and Rizwan put a 165-runs for the 5th wicket. The duo set the tone for Pakistan but Kiwis picked the last six wickets in a margin of 31 runs. The stand-in captain has been consistent in the Test format and scored a half-century in both innings. With Faheem Ashraf, the captain put a century stand when Pakistan was struggling at 80/6. Faheem Ashraf’s positive intent was a positive point for the middle-order. He scored the finest 91 under-pressure. Fawad Alam’s hundred after 11 years marks a huge boost to Pakistan’s middle-order. The top-order has been so poor for Pakistan. In the last eight innings down under, Pakistani openers scored 133 runs at an average of 16.63. Imam might be picked if he is fit and Abid Ali will be dropped. Babar Azam has been ruled out of the Test series and Rizwan will lead Pakistan for the second time in the Tests. It means Haris Sohail can get one chance to play at number 4. Shaheen had some injury issues but he will be available for this match. After a positive attitude in the 2nd innings, Pakistan can bounce back in the final Test. The task isn’t so easy against the strong New Zealand side. It depends on Pakistan’s approach in the batting unit that struggled against the moving ball. New Zealand are going to take the clean sweep and finish the WTC campaign on 390 points.
Hagley Oval is a batting track but it offers more help to pacers. The morning session is crucial against the pace where the ball moves. Spinners can trouble on the fourth and fifth day. Later the match progresses, batsmen can take advantage of the pitch.
Tom Latham, Tom Blundell, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling (wk), Mitchell Santner, Kyle Jamieson, Tim Southee, Matt Henry, Trent Boult
Shan Masood, Abid Ali/Imam ul Haq, Azhar Ali, Fawad Alam, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Rizwan (c & wk), Faheem Ashraf, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Abbas, Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah
WTC 2019-21 – M: 8, Wickets: 49, Avg: 19.34
This home summer – M: 3, Wickets: 16
WTC 2019-21 – M: 8, Runs: 579, Avg: 44.53
This home summer -251, 57, 1, 129, 21
WTC 2019-21 – M: 8, Runs: 810, Avg: 81
WTC 2019-21 – M: 9, Runs: 504, Avg: 42
Last Test – 71 & 60