Will Misbah-ul-Haq and his Pakistan side continue their dominance in Tests    Getty Images
Will Misbah-ul-Haq and his Pakistan side continue their dominance in Tests Getty Images

After a 2-1 series win against West Indies in UAE, Pakistan will take on New Zealand in the first of 2 Tests at Christchurch. Pakistan have been a dominant force in the longest format under Misbah-ul-Haq, and will look to extend that by getting off to a perfect start in this series. Pakistan had surged to the No. 1 spot in ICC Test rankings after a 2-2 draw in England. Pakistan have given Sharjeel Khan a Test call-up for the very first time, but with so much experience in their squad, it will be unlikely that he would get a go in this match. Pakistan suffered a minor setback when they lost the third Test against West Indies, but overall they look a formidable side. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Pakistan vs New Zealand, 1st Test at Hagley Oval, Christchurch

With Pakistan scheduled to visit Australia next month for 3 Tests and 5 ODIs, they will surely like their team to put on a good show against a New Zealand side short on confidence following their recent humbling 0-3 whitewash in India. New Zealand, however, can pose a lot of threat at home and Pakistan will be wary of that. With that in mind, let us take a look at the XI Pakistan might field for the first Test.

Top-order: Azhar Ali had scored a triple-century in the West Indies series opening the innings, and had another excellent innings in the third Test. He has had a mixed time opening the innings for Pakistan, but for the benefit of his team he is most likely to open the innings again. Sami Aslam has been solid at the top, but despite getting 5 fifties in 7 Tests, a big score still eludes him. If he can get one in testing conditions in New Zealand, it will boost his confidence immensely. With an average of over 42 and one of Pakistan s consistent performers, Asad Shafiq will look to continue his good run against New Zealand. He got a golden duck against West Indies in the previous Test, but Pakistan will hope that it is a one-off and he comes good in this series. If the top three click, it will only ease the pressure on the experienced middle-order. READ: NZ vs PAK 1st Test: Likely XI for Kane Williamson s men

Middle-order: Pakistan s leading run-scorer Younis Khan will occupy the the No. 4 spot. Younis is just a little over 300 runs away from completing 10,000 runs. At 38 he is one of Pakistan s main batsmen, and if he fails to fire, Pakistan might have a tough time. Younis will be followed by skipper Misbah. At 42, Misbah is one of the fittest players in the Pakistan side and has led the side incredibly well in the last six years, since he has taken charge. There are murmurs that the tours of New Zealand and Australia could be his last. If that is the case, he would surely want to go out on a high. Misbah will surely have fond memories of New Zealand. The last time Pakistan toured New Zealand in 2011, Misbah s men won the series with the skipper scoring 3 fifties in 3 innings. He will bring his experience into play once again. READ: Fazeer Mohammad: Pakistan’s defeat in 3rd Test against WI a reality check

Babar Azam filled in for Younis in the first Test against West Indies as the latter was ruled out due to illness. He grabbed the opportunity with both hands scoring 69 and 21. Babar scored 3 back-to-back hundreds in the ODIs against West Indies before the Tests and is overall in good nick. Wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed will follow Azam. Sarfraz has the knack of scoring quickly and freely regardless of the situation. He keeps the scoreboard ticking, putting pressure on the fielding side. He has been excellent behind wicket as well, giving very less reason to not include him in the side. READ: PAK vs NZ: 1st Test at Christchurch to go ahead as scheduled despite strong earthquake

Bowlers: With conditions in New Zealand offering more assistance to pacers, it will be daft to see Pakistan go in with more than one spinner. Therefore, Mohammad Nawaz will drop to the bench. Yasir Shah, on the other hand, will surely be given a place in the XI. Pakistan have a wide range of fast bowlers to chose from. Pakistan have in the past gone in with three left-arm seamers, but this time they will have a right-handed fast bowler, just to give them a different dimension. Mohammad Aamer is a sure starter and after a good show in the final Test against West Indies, Wahab Riaz should get the nod on current form. Sohail Khan did well in the limited chances he got in England and the conditions should be suitable to him. He may just make the cut ahead of Imran Khan and Rahat Ali.

Pakistan Likely XI for first Test against New Zealand: Azhar Ali, Sami Aslam, Asad Shafiq, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq (c), Babar Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Yasir Shah, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Aamer, Sohail Khan.

(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)