On Saturday (26th December), the two-match Test series between the hosts New Zealand and the visitors Pakistan will begin. Bay Oval (Mount Maunganui) will host this series opener, which will be the second Test at this venue.
This Test series will be the part of the ongoing inaugural ICC World Test Championship. So, it is going to be a very crucial series for both these teams.
Ahead of the beginning of this Test series, here we are talking about both the teams and the match prediction.
New Zealand vs Pakistan, 1st Test: Match Preview
As a home team, New Zealand are now always a stronger side. But in Test cricket, they are currently unbeatable. Since March 2017, they haven’t suffered a defeat in the home Tests. Last time, they lost a home Test in March 2017 against South Africa at Wellington, where the visitors won by 8 wickets.
Captain Kane Williamson is currently in great form with the bat. Not only he scored a Test double-century against West Indies in the previous Test series, but he also hit three successive half-centuries in last four T20 innings. Though the senior cricketer Ross Taylor hasn’t provided much useful contribution with the bat in this year, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls etc. impressed in the last Test series.
In his very early career, Kyle Jamieson has impressed with his effective all-round skills. Meanwhile, the other pace-bowling trio – Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Neil Wagner, are all very powerful and in-form bowlers.
Kane Williamson (C), Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling (wk), Will Young
Since landing in New Zealand, Pakistan national cricket team is facing really tough time. Like the T20I series, Pakistan captain Babar Azam will also miss the opening game of this Test series. Moreover, Shadab Khan and Imam-ul-Haq are also missing the first Test due to their respective injuries. So, the first Test will be definitely harder for the visitors.
There is no doubt that they have a good pace-bowling line-up who can challenge any batting line-up. The left-arm pacer Shaheen Afridi has already impressed with the ball in hand, and it will be more powerful with the better and consistent supports from the other bowlers.
But they have to sort out the batting issues in really quick moment to put some strong fight in the first Test.
Mohammad Rizwan (C), Abid Ali, Azhar Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Fawad Alam, Haris Sohail, Imran Butt, Mohammad Abbas, Naseem Shah, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shaheen Afridi, Shan Masood, Sohail Khan, Yasir Shah and Zafar Gohar.
New Zealand vs Pakistan, 1st Test: Match Prediction
Since March 2017, New Zealand are unbeaten in the 15 home Tests. Moreover, talking about both the latest squads, the hosts are really stronger than the struggling travelers.
So, in the first impression, we can easily say that New Zealand are favourite in this Test series opener.