Pakistan vs New Zealand, 3rd Test: Who blinks first?
Kane Williamson needs runs and support from his team-mates. @AFP

New Zealand will hope that returning to Abu Dhabi, where they famously won by four runs in the first Test, after a drubbing in Dubai will offer some salve as they to beat Pakistan  in the deciding third Test from December 3.

That stunning victory – New Zealand’s narrowest ever – seems like a long time ago after the way Pakistan rebounded in the second Test, and now the stage is set for a tasty finale.

Should this pitch be the same one on which Pakistan beat Australia by 373 runs last month, when seam bowler Mohammad Abbas took ten wickets and Nathan Lyon eight, then New Zealand have a tough ask. Three successive batting collapses underline where the problem lies, and Kane Williamson getting four starts without covering one into a hundred is one area where New Zealand can hope to improve on.

New Zealand have to find a way to stop Yasir Shah taking wickets, after the legspinner claimed 14/184 in Dubai  for the best Test match figures against the country.

The team that won the toss won both Tests, and Pakistan’s template in Dubai is the one that works best in the UAE: bat for two days and let your spinners do their thing on a wearing surface. Pakistan will hope to wrap up the series with a win before they travel to South Africa, where a much tougher challenge awaits. Having levelled the series, the home team now holds the advantage in Abu Dhabi.

Date: November 24

Venue: Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi

Time: 11:30 IST

Weather: Mostly sunny with a high of 27

Team News

Pakistan 

The absence of Mohammad Abbas, the team’s leading wicket-taker this year, has handed a Test debut to Shaheen Shah Afridi who impressed during the ODIs against New Zealand. The offspin of Bilal Asif has fetched two wickets in two Tests, but with no other specialist spinner to pick, the 33-year-old should keep his place.

Probable XI: 1 Imam-ul-Haq, 2 Mohammad Hafeez, 3 Azhar Ali, 4 Haris Sohail, 5 Asad Shafiq, 6 Babar Azam, 7 Sarfraz Ahmed (capt/wk), 8 Bilal Asif, 9 Hasan Ali, 10 Yasir Shah, 11 Shaheen Shah Afridi

New Zealand 

As well as he bowled on the first morning of the second Test, Colin de Grandhomme’s struggles with the bat in the UAE have him in line to be dropped. The wicketkeeper Tom Blundell boasts a Test batting average of 68 and should play as a specialist batsman in the middle order.

Of Trent Boult, Neil Wagner, Ajaz Patel and Ish Sodhi, the legspinner Sodhi appears set to lose his place with one of Tim Southee, Matt Henry of the uncapped off spinner Will Somerville to step in. Unless Williamson fancies bowling himself for some spin.

Probable XI: 1 Jeet Raval, 2 Tom Latham, 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Henry Nicholls, 6 BJ Watling (wk), 7 Tom Blundell, 8 Will Somerville, Ajaz Patel, 10 Ajaz Patel, 11 Trent Boult

Statistics

– Yasir Shah has a strong chance to shatter an 82-year-old record. If he gets five wickets, he will become the fastest to 200.

– Tim Southee and Trent Boult are level on 220 Test wickets. Neil Wagner needs eight to draw level with Danny Morrison at seventh place on New Zealand’s all-time list.

– Jeet Raval has gone eight Test innings without a fifty.

– Should New Zealand win, it will mark their first away series success over Pakistan since Graham Dowling captained the country to a 1-0 win in 1969.

Quotes

“I always had belief in my ability and in my hard work although I didn’t expect my chance will come in Tests so early.” – Shaheen Shah Afridi

“We’ve played some good cricket since we’ve been here – unfortunately there was 45 minutes of madness where we managed to lose the Test but hopefully we can take the confidence from that first Test and take that into the last one and give ourselves a good chance of winning the series.” – Tom Latham