Our prediction is that Pakistan would go on to win the third Test against New Zealand at Abu Dhabi.
In their first international tour in 7 months and after a month spent here in the UAE contesting Pakistan in all three formats, New Zealand must take pride in the fact that they would set foot on the Abu Dhabi stadium on 3rd December with a chance to win the Test series against Pakistan. The chance, however bleak it may be, makes this Test a very exciting affair.
These two teams have been involved in a couple of outstanding Tests which have set the stage for a grand finale in the third and final Test. Both teams have batting issues and both teams have won based on spinning masterclasses. The team adept with the temperament to handle opposition’s spinners better have a greater chance of winning this Test.
Pakistan displayed batting temperament in the second Test when Haris Sohail and Babar Azam played marathon innings. New Zealand must improve their batting if they are to have any chance against Yasir Shah and Pakistan in general.
Pakistan never cease to amaze. Within a matter of days, this team can showcase a performance ranging from the one that involved mental disintegration to the one for the ages. That is how Pakistan played the first two Tests against New Zealand in the UAE.
In the first test, Pakistan managed to lose a match which they should have won comfortably. The match was pretty much in their pocket until debutant Ajaz Patel picked it with a match-changing performance of 5 for 59. A few days later, against the same opponents, Yasir Shah produced his best bowling figures taking 14 wickets in a Test match equaling a Pakistan record of 14 wickets in a Test by none other than Imran Khan.
Mohammad Abbas will, unfortunately, miss the third Test due to a shoulder injury he suffered in the field during the second Test. He will be replaced by the debutant Shaheen Afridi.
The fact that Pakistan should have won the first Test easily just like they did in the second one, by an innings, in fact, shifts the odds in their favor in the third Test.
Probable Starting XI
Sarfraz Ahmed (c), Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam, Bilal Asif, Haris Sohail, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Yasir Shah
NEW ZEALAND PREVIEW
New Zealand came into this series as a team that is short on international exposure for last 7 months. They did not play like one though. After ending the ODI series on parity, they toppled the hosts in the first Test to go one up in the Test series.
In the first Test, when everyone had practically given up on a New Zealand win, they kept pushing the door until they opened it. By their own admission, it was one of their best Test wins. It was one without a doubt.
In the second Test, however, they saw another side of Pakistan and this time they had no answers for the question posed by Yasir Shah. However, there is no shame in losing to that kind of performance.
Going into the third Test New Zealand must be hoping for better batting performance after they folded to just 90 all out in the first innings of the second Test.
Probable Starting XI
KS Williamson (c), TA Boult, C de Grandhomme, TWM Latham, HM Nicholls, AY Patel, JA Raval, IS Sodhi, LRPL Taylor, N Wagner, BJ Watling
The Tests in the UAE continue to be dictated by the spinners and the team’s ability to negotiate them. The conditions in Abu Dhabi are dry and should support the spinners throughout the Test.
The team winning the toss should look to Bat first and put runs on the board and then trust the spinners to win the game for them on a crumbling pitch.
Pakistan collapsed in the first Test only to come back strongly in the second one. They are defining their own fate in this series. Pakistan have created a fortress in the UAE where they seldom lose a Test series. In fact, they have lost just one series, to Sri Lanka in 2017, in the last 15 years.
Based on their batting prowess against spin and superiority in spin squadron, our prediction is that Pakistan will win the third Test, and with it the series, against New Zealand.
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