Pakistan keen to maintain hot streak against New Zealand

Shahid Hashmi 11:17 08/11/2014
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New challenge: Pakistan will rely on the likes of leg-spinner Yasir Shah against New Zealand.

Pakistan will look to keep their winning momentum, which gave them a long-awaited series victory over Australia, when they face New Zealand in the first Test in Abu Dhabi tomorrow.

Pakistan achieved a rare 2-0 win with emphatic 221-run and 356- run victories for their first series win over Australia in 20 years.

The victory was more significant as Pakistan were without matchwinning spinner Saeed Ajmal who is suspended due to an illegal bowling action while pace spearheads Junaid Khan and Wahab Riaz were both injured.

But an inexperienced bowling attack of left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar (14 wickets) and leg spinner Yasir Shah (12) forced spin-shy Australia into submission in both Tests.

For Pakistan, Younis Khan mustered 468 runs in two Tests against Australia while captain Misbah-ul Haq and Azhar Ali notched a century in each innings of the second Test.

Opener Ahmed Shehzad and Sarfraz Ahmed also hit hundreds in the first Test, a confidence boost which Misbah is sure will be maintained.

“I am confident that we will play good cricket against New Zealand, and we should play that way,” said Misbah.

“The team is upbeat and there is not one weak link that you can see.

"The batsmen are in good form, the bowlers are delivering.

"Given that we are playing in the same conditions, we are positive that we can perform well.”

Pakistan have retained the same 16-man squad for the first Test and are likely to make no changes from the second Test against Australia which was played at the same Abu Dhabi venue.

New Zealand hope leg-spinner Ish Sodhi can come good after taking five wickets in the drawn side game against Pakistan ‘A’.

The Kiwis will also pray their experienced middle-order batsman Ross Taylor is fully fit after suffering a calf injury.

He managed just 11 runs in the tour game in Sharjah.

New Zealand coach Mike Hesson admitted Pakistan will be tough in the familiar conditions of the UAE.

“Pakistan are an incredibly tough team to play in conditions favourable to them.

"Our record against them is actually the worst against any of the Test playing nations, having won just two out of 20 series, both home and away.”

Meanwhile, leg-spinner Shah said he was inspired by legendary Shane Warne’s tweets during his spin demolition of Australia.

“It’s very encouraging that a legend like Warne supported me so much and every day he tweeted,” Shah said.

“I have never met him but it’s my desire to meet him.”

The leggie said he started playing cricket only after watching the great spinner.

“I followed Warne in the beginning and my action was similar to his but then Aaqib Javed (former coach at Lahore academy) changed my action but he has always been my inspiration,” said Shah.

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