Kane Williamson's tenure as New Zealand's Test captain has started off on a shaky note    Getty Images
Kane Williamson’s tenure as New Zealand’s Test captain has started off on a shaky note Getty Images

Having suffered a 3-0 clean sweep at the hands of India, New Zealand will look get back to winning ways when they take on in the first Test against Pakistan at Christchurch. The Kane Williamson era has begun on a shaky note. New Zealand have already lost series against South Africa and India under Williamson. Beating Pakistan will not be easy, given the form Pakistan are in at the moment. They have beaten West Indies 2-1 in UAE and also their four-match series against England ended 2-2, after which they were briefly ranked No. 1. New Zealand have never been a great Test side, but they cannot be underestimated by any stretch of imagination. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Pakistan vs New Zealand, 1st Test at Hagley Oval, Christchurch

There was a shadow of doubt over this Test as a severe earthquake struck Christchurch, due to which Pakistan s only practice game of the tour had to be cancelled. In fact, Pakistan had to be taken to a safe place following a tsunami alert. Their manager confirmed that the players are safe, but were shaken by the earthquake. With things getting back to normal in the city, it is time for some cricket as we take a look at the likely XI New Zealand may field against Pakistan at Christchurch.

Top-order: Tom Latham was one of the most consistent performers on the India tour. He scored 194 from his 6 innings and was New Zealand s second highest run-getter, behind Luke Ronchi. Latham, however, will have a new opening partner in Jeet Raval as his usual partner Martin Guptill has been dropped following a string of poor performances. Raval averages over 43 in First-Class cricket and has scored heavily for Auckland in the last couple of seasons. At No. 3 will be the ever-dependable Williamson. Williamson scored just one fifty in his 4 innings in India, but will look to stamp his authority in home conditions, where he averages over 57.

Middle-order: Although Ross Taylor has been short of runs, his skipper has shown a lot of confidence in him. Williamson has backed Taylor to come good against Pakistan. Taylor averaged a poor 14.43 in the Test series in India. Another failure in this series can see his selection in the future series in serious jeopardy. New Zealand have already axed Guptill. If Taylor does nor pull up, his fate can be similar as well. Jimmy Neesham played the final Test at Indore and impressed everyone with his 71. The fact that he can also bowl medium-pace gives New Zealand depth in their bowling as well. READ: NZ look to McCullum for inspiration ahead of 1st Test

Henry Nicholls Test career has not taken off like he would have expected, but this series can be an opportunity to express himself. He had a decent run in First-Class cricket for Canterbury, where he got off to a couple of good starts, including a 98 against Central Districts at Christchurch. After Neesham and Nicholls will be wicketkeeper BJ Watling, who has often taken New Zealand to a safe position from a precarious situation. He has a good technique and resolute temperament, puts a price on his wicket, and is also an excellent wicketkeeper. He is nimble, has good footwork and has seldom had a bad day behind the wickets.

Bowlers: With Mitchell Santner ruled out, it paves way for Todd Astle to return to the New Zealand Test side. The 30-year-old leggie played his only Test for the Black Caps back in 2012 against Sri Lanka. He played a couple of T20Is earlier this year against Pakistan but was hammered for a lot of runs. Astle has been in excellent form with the ball for Canterbury this season and New Zealand have decided to cash in on that, leaving out Ish Sodhi. Astle is no mug with the bat either. He has a couple of First-Class hundreds to his name. His highest score of 195 came less than a month ago against Northern Districts.

New Zealand have a fierce pace attack and there is no reason why they should not field four quicks in this match. The prospect of watching Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner and Matt Henry in the same team sheet is mouth-watering to say the least, but only three will get the nod. Boult was excellent in India, where he was the joint-highest wicket-taker for his side with 10 scalps. He shone especially with the old ball, when there was reverse-swing on offer. Wagner has been one of New Zealand s consistent performers of late and Southee will surely be a threat in familiar conditions. As a result, Matt Henry will mostly miss out in this Test.

New Zealand likely XI for first Test against Pakistan: Tom Latham, Jeet Raval, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Jimmy Neesham, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling (wk), Todd Astle, Neil Wagner, Tim Southee, Trent Boult

(Pramod Ananth is a reporter at CricketCountry.com. He is a sports enthusiast and a keen observer of cricket, the contests, and its personalities. When not tracking cricket, he follows the world s soccer leagues and is somewhat partial towards Liverpool. His Twitter handle is @pramz)