Rival captains Misbah-ul-Haq and Brendon McCullum hope to win the toss and enjoy a kick-start to the series-deciding third Test between Pakistan and New Zealand starting in Sharjah tomorrow.
Pakistan piled up 566-3 in the first Test in Abu Dhabi after winning the toss and then spun out New Zealand twice for a comprehensive 248-run win to take a 1-0 lead.
Despite the odds New Zealand staged an impressive comeback in the second Test in Dubai, winning the toss and dictating terms before Pakistan, set a target of 261 on the final day, salvaged a draw to set up an intriguing finale.
Pakistan’s spinners — left armer Zulfiqar Babar (13 wickets in two Tests) and leggie Yasir Shah (11) — are likely to hold the key.
However, McCullum said his team can take confidence from the improved performance in the second Test.
“We would have loved to have won the second Test,” McCullum said.
“But you have to look at what we have done in Dubai, bank the confidence and head to Sharjah knowing that we have an opportunity to win away from home if we play up a little bit up,” he added.
“It is satisfying to keep the series alive [after the second Test] and it will give us more confidence. We learned a lot from the [last] game and hopefully we can improve more,” he said.
New Zealand might bolster their batting by bringing in in-form Luke Ronchi for Jimmy Neesham who has struggled with just 39 runs in four innings. Pakistan missed Mohammad Hafeez’s all-round skills in the second Test as his off-spin provides them the option of a fifth bowler.
He is likely to recover from a hamstring injury which forced him out of the second Test and could replace Taufeeq Umar who flopped in Dubai.
His bowling action was reported as suspect after the first Test, but he was told he could bowl in Sharjah, pending a report of a bio-mechanical analysis that was scheduled to be performed in England yesterday.
He is due to return to Sharjah today.
Misbah said that he wants Pakistan to improve their fielding in Sharjah after having dropped a number of catches in Dubai.
“I am pretty pleased with the bowling and batting,” the Pakistan captain said.
“In the field we need to take our chances because on these sort of wickets if you miss chances it could be really difficult for the bowlers,” he said.
“Full marks to New Zealand. They really improved after the first game. They put us under pressure,” he said.
The two teams are also scheduled to play two Twenty20 matches and five one-day internationals following the end of the Tests series.
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