Pakistan v New Zealand: Shaheen Afridi, Ajaz Patel and other players to watch out for

Waseem Ahmed 13/11/2018
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Afridi (l) was handed a maiden Test call-up for the series.

With the T20 and ODI series between Pakistan and New Zealand now done and dusted, the two sides will turn their attentions towards the three Tests which get underway on Friday in Abu Dhabi.

While Pakistan took the honours in a 3-0 clean sweep in the T20s, the ODI series was shared between the two sides after persistent rains caused the deciding match at Dubai to be abandoned on Sunday.

As the focus turns towards red-ball cricket, we look at six players to watch out for in the Test series.

PAKISTAN

Azhar Ali

Amid Pakistan’s recent white-ball exertions against Australia and New Zealand, Azhar Ali found the time to announce his international retirement from one-dayers. Now a full-time Test specialist, the right-hander will be eager to perform under the spotlight.

The 67-Test veteran opener was pushed down to the No3 spot in the batting order against Australia after Fakhar Zaman was handed his Test debut. Despite Fakhar being rested for the New Zealand series, Azhar could still find himself in the unfamiliar role with Imam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Hafeez providing the opening options.

It will be interesting to note how he goes in the No3 role once again after registering just a single half-century in the four innings against Australia.

Back in the limelight: Azhar Ali.

Back in the limelight: Azhar Ali.

Mohammad Abbas

With red-ball cricket back on the menu, its time to watch Mohammad Abbas’ genius again. The 28-year-old has had a sensational introduction to Test cricket even at his advanced age and became the quickest fast-bowler from his country to grab 50 Test wickets. 59 wickets in just 10 Test at an astonishing average of less than 16 are terrifying numbers if you are a New Zealand batsman.

Abbas showed he has the skill set to succeed on any kind of surface with his 17-wicket haul in the two Tests against Australia a testament to his prodigious talents on the slower surfaces on offer in the UAE.

Its Mohammad Abbas time once again.

Its Mohammad Abbas time once again.

Shaheen Afridi

New Zealand will already be sick at the sight of the 18-year-old pacer who tormented them endlessly in both the T20s and the ODIs.

The left-armed continued his sensational introduction to international cricket by picking up five wickets in the T20s before following it up with a man-of-the-series display in the ODIs where he grabbed nine wickets.

Now rewarded with a maiden Test call-up, Afridi is already showing why the Pakistan management has been right in fast-tracking his international career.

Afridi was the man-of-the-series in the T20s.

Afridi was the man-of-the-series in the T20s.

NEW ZEALAND

Ajaz Patel

Though he failed to create any substantial impact in the T20 series, left-arm orthodox spinner Ajaz Patel will be determined to prove his worth in the Test series.

The T20 series was his introduction to international cricket and Patel was tidy, if not eye-catching in the two matches he played. Tests will be a completely different beast and the 30-year-old already has plenty of responsibilities on his shoulder.

With Todd Astle withdrawing from the New Zealand squad, Patel will the second spin option for the tourists after Ish Sodhi. Patel had an excellent first-class season back home prior to his international call-up and he could be the surprise package of the series.

Patel could be a handful with the red-ball in UAE conditions.

Patel could be a handful with the red-ball in UAE conditions.

Jeet Raval

The classical Test opener with textbook technique will be vital to New Zealand getting off to a good start in the series. The left-hander will have his hands full with a marauding Abbas to contend with but has all the necessary tools to see out the new-ball for his side.

Seeing off the pacers will only be half-the-job done for Raval given Pakistan’s dangerous spin threat. Good thing then that he has just returned from a training stint in India which he undertook to improve his technique against subcontinent spinners.

The opener has no Test centuries to his name after 11 matches and Pakistan series will be the perfect time for him to open his account in that regard.

Raval can be a rock at the top for New Zealand.

Raval can be a rock at the top for New Zealand.

Neil Wagner

Red-ball cricket means it is time to welcome back New Zealand Test specialist Neil Wagner.

The pacer is a workhorse and embodies the spirit of a warrior every time he is on the cricket pitch. The left-armed pacer has been a tireless servant to New Zealand in the Test arena and has formed an excellent relationship with Trent Boult and Tim Southee.

No matter what the surface, Wagner will extract something out of it through sheer intensity and tenacity. On the slower pitches in the UAE, Wagner’s relentless energy will be needed by the tourists.

Wagner is New Zealand's tireless workhorse for every condition.

Wagner is New Zealand’s tireless workhorse for every condition.

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Mushfiqur Rahim relishing being behind the stumps again after record double Test ton

Waseem Ahmed 13/11/2018
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A record Test double-ton by the Bangladesh wicketkeeper.

Mushfiqur Rahim became the first wicketkeeper batsman in history to slam two Test double tons on Monday when he struck an unbeaten 219 in the second match of Bangladesh‘s ongoing series against Zimbabwe.

The 31-year-old’s double ton put the hosts in total coming in the second Test against the visitors as they posted a mammoth 522-7 before declaring their first innings.

Former Sri Lanka stalwart Kumar Sangakkara had registered seven double Test centuries during his career but only one of them had come in a match where he had also taken up wicketkeeping duties.

As exhausting as the dual role might be for a player at the highest level, Mushfiqur is in no mood to give up his gloves anytime soon to concentrate on his batting.

“I have said repeatedly, keeping helps me a lot. Though it doesn’t mean that I will score centuries or double centuries in every match where I keep but it’s my process, and I am a big believer in process and preparation,” the Bangladesh man was quoted as saying by AFP following the second day’s play in Dhaka.

“It sometimes happens that there is a bit of a problem managing the workload of the two roles, but I think it is a challenge and the one which I always enjoy.”

Mushfiqur is in no mood to give up his keeping gloves any time soon.

Mushfiqur is in no mood to give up his keeping gloves any time soon.

The ongoing series against Zimbabwe is the first time Mushfiqur has also kept wicket for Bangladesh in the past four Test series. The right-hander was not given the gloves in the team’s previous series against South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies following his patchy showing against India last year.

Back behind the stumps now for the Tigers, Mushfiqur could not be more delighted with his sterling display.

“I am the kind of person who does not want to sit in the dressing room doing nothing. I want to stay as much as possible on the field and contribute, feel like I am doing something for the team and my country,” he explained.

The wicketkeeper batsman will now be hoping that his mammoth innings can give Bangladesh the desired victory they need in the second Test to avoid a series defeat to the Africans.

Against all odds, the visitors had stunned the hosts in the first Test at Sylhet by 151 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.

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Live Cricket Blog: Finch promises batting shake-up for India's visit

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Catch all the latest happenings in the world of cricket.

Welcome to Monday’s live cricket blog!

The Sport360 team is in place bringing you the latest news from the world in what should be an action-packed day.

We will be bringing you all the reactions from India’s 3-0 T20 series clean sweep of the West Indies as well as Pakistan’s drawn ODI series against the Blackcaps. We will also be looking ahead to the upcoming Test series between Pakistan and New Zealand.

Get in touch on Facebook and Twitter throughout the day.

9:00pm – Finch promises batting shake-up for India’s visit

Australia limited-overs skipper Aaron Finch has hinted at changes in the team’s batting order for the upcoming visit of India after his men were handed a 2-1 loss in the ODI series by South Africa.

The Proteas won the third and final ODI at Hobart on Sunday by 40 runs to hand Australia another series defeat following their losses in England and in the UAE against Pakistan.

Read Finch’s post-match quotes here.

Finch was left searching for answers after Australia's 40-run defeat.

Finch was left searching for answers after Australia’s 40-run defeat.

8:00pm – Pant and Karthik provide India the answers

India completed a 3-0 clean sweep over the West Indies, with the final T20 between the two sides on Sunday going right down to the wire.

As the men in blue get ready for their showdown Down Under, we have taken a look at the three things they have learned from their whitewash of the Windies.

Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik’s form with the bat is one of them. See that and more in our takeaways here.

Young Pant was on fire in the third and final T20.

Young Pant was on fire in the third and final T20.

7:00pm – Mashrafe Mortaza to contest elections in Bangladesh

In a rare instance of an active cricketer running for public office, Bangladesh ODI skipper Mashrafe Mortaza is set to contest in the country’s general elections set to be held in December.

The 35-year-old will contest the elections on behalf of the ruling party Awami League and a picture of him alongside that of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was splashed across the front pages of multiple Bangladesh newspapers on Monday.

Read more on this developing story here.

Mortaza (r) will run for elections next month.

Mortaza (r) will run for elections next month.

6:00pm – Rohit Sharma in confident mood ahead of Australia tour

India completed a 3-0 whitewash of the West Indies in the T20 series on Sunday with a six-wicket win over the visitors in the final clash at Chennai.

As dominant as India might have been across all three formats against the Windies, stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma believes the upcoming full tour of Australia will be a different level of challenge altogether.

Read Rohit’s quotes in full here.

A series clean sweep for Rohit and his men. Image - BCCI/Twitter.

A series clean sweep for Rohit and his men. Image – BCCI/Twitter.

5:00pm – Mushfiqur Rahim registers record double Test ton

Bangladesh’s Mushfiqur Rahim made history on Monday when he became the first wicketkeeper to register two double tons in Test cricket.

The Bangladesh wicketkeeper-batsman attained the feat on day two of his side’s second Test against Zimbabwe at Dhaka on Monday.

Read more on the Bangladesh star’s remarkable feat here.

A second Test double ton for the Bangladesh wicketkeeper.

A second Test double ton for the Bangladesh wicketkeeper.

4:30pm – Jos Buttler lauds England’s batting flexibility

Jos Buttler believes the flexibility of England‘s batting line-up is a sign of strength rather than a result of indecision.

Despite an impressive 211-run win against Sri Lanka in Galle, England began preparations for the second Test in Kandy with a handful of selection posers to answer.

Read what Buttler had to say here.

Hard at work in the nets: Jos Buttler.

Hard at work in the nets: Jos Buttler.

4:00pm – Kuldeep and Dhawan shine in India player ratings

India completed a 3-0 whitewash of the West Indies in the three-match T20 series on Sunday with a last-gasp six-wicket win in Chennai.

It was another impressive performance from the hosts after their triumphs in the Test and ODI series against the same opponents.

Check out how India’s players fared in our ratings for the series here.

Dhawan was bright in the second and third T20s.

Dhawan was bright in the second and third T20s.

3:00pm – Shaheen Afridi impresses in drawn Pakistan v New Zealand ODI series

Rains played spoilsport in the ODI series between Pakistan and the Blackcaps with the deciding clash at Dubai on Sunday having to be abandoned. That meant that the three-match series was jointly shared by the two teams at 1-1.

We have rated the performance of the men in green over the course of the three matches with Shaheen Afridi in particular excelling. See how the teenager and other Pakistan stars fared here.

A perfect 10 for the Pakistan teenager.

A perfect 10 for the Pakistan teenager.

2:00pm – Sarfraz Ahmed happy with drawn ODI series

Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed saw rains spoil a great chance for his men to capture the ODI series against New Zealand on Sunday but the wicketkeeper batsman was nevertheless a content man.

“It’s a sort of disappointing end. But you can’t fight with nature, we were in a good position after a good total and then got a key wicket,” said Sarfraz after the abandoned match.

Read the Pakistan skipper’s quotes in full here.

Honours even after a hard-fought series between the two teams.

Honours even after a hard-fought series between the two teams.

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