New Zealand has struggled to score against the Pakistan bowling © Getty Images
New Zealand has struggled to score against the Pakistan bowling © Getty Images

By Amit Banerjee

Nov 25, 2014

Pakistan and New Zealand face off in the final encounter of the three-Test series at the Sharjah International Stadium on Wednesday. The series is currently in Pakistan’s favour, with the hosts having won the first Test at Dubai by 248 runs. The New Zealanders however fought back in the second Test to secure a draw, giving them an opportunity to the series in the final battle.

The biggest draw for the final Test will be that of Kiwi veteran Daniel Vettori’s return to the squad. The left-arm spinner, who has been one of island nation’s most successful bowlers ever with a tally of 644 international scalps, has not played a Test for the last two years. His addition should bolster New Zealand’s bowling attack as Sharjah pitch is known to assist spinners and will be a great venue for Vettori to excel on his return.

Eyes will also be fixed on Tom Latham, who has been enjoying an impeccable form in the series so far. Latham, a second-generation Kiwi cricketer, became the first New Zealand batsman to score back-to-back centuries. He is expected to play a major role in New Zealand’s pursuit of a win in the final Test. The other good news as far as the Kiwi batting is concerned is Ross Taylor’s return to form. Taylor struck his 12th Test century in the second innings of the previous Test, battling against the rampaging Zulfiqar Babar and Yasir Shah.

Pakistan, on the other hand, have admitted to missing out on several opportunities to win the previous game, and will look to make amends in the final Test. The ‘hosts’ will look to maintain their healthy momentum in Tests, which started with a powerful 2-0 win over the visiting Australians.

One of the biggest weapons in the Pakistani arsenal is that of the spinning duo of Babar and Shah, who took 15 wickets together in the previous Test, preventing the tourists from putting up another big total on the board in the second innings. That, along with the strong batting performances by Sarfraz Ahmed, Younis Khan and Azhar Ali should provide for some mouth-watering contest between the two sides.

Squads:

Pakistan: Misbah-ul-Haq (c), Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali, Ehsan Adil, Haris Sohail, Imran Khan, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Talha, Rahat Ali, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Shan Masood, Taufeeq Umar, Yasir Shah, Younis Khan, Zulfiqar Babar, Ahmed Shehzad

New Zealand: Brendon McCullum (c), Corey Anderson, Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell, Mark Craig, Tom Latham, James Neesham, Luke Ronchi, Hamish Rutherford, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Daniel Vettori, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling (wk), Kane Williamson.

Time: 06:00 GMT | 11:30 IST

(Amit Banerjee, a reporter at CricketCountry, takes keen interest in photography, travelling, technology, automobiles, food and, of course, cricket. He can be followed on Twitter via his handle @akb287)