New Zealand National Cricket Team: Previews

The summer of cricket is underway and on this page, we’ll have previews of every single match featuring the New Zealand National Cricket Team.

Sri Lanka and India will be the teams to tour as they build into their preparation for the 2019 World Cup.

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After an historic series win in the UAE against Pakistan, New Zealand will be looking to take that momentum into the first of a two test series at home against Sri Lanka, starting on Saturday.

Saturday December 15th, 9.00am AEDT

New Zealand

The Black Caps have retained the majority of their squad that defeated Pakistan, although there was no room for off-spinner Will Somerville who played a key role in the series decider in Abu Dhabi.

Left-arm orthodox Ajax Patel has claimed the only slow-bowling spot in the 13-man squad with Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Matt Henry and all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme all providing pace options.

In the only other change the squad, reserve wicket-keeper Tom Blundell has been omitted with 26-year-old batsman Will Young drafted in after a series of impressive performances for New Zealand A.

After a stellar series in the desert, captain Kane Williamson will be hungry for more runs on home soil, along with left-hander Henry Nicholls who also enjoyed his time against Pakistan. On the other side of the coin, the likes of Tom Latham and Ross Taylor will be looking to cash in at home after both suffering relatively lean returns and shore up their places in the starting XI.

Sri Lanka

After being whitewashed at home against England, Sri Lanka face a massive challenge on the seaming pitches in the land of the long white cloud.

They do at least welcome back captain Dinesh Chandimal who missed the final two tests against England with a groin injury, while steady opening batsman Dimuth Karunaratne has been promoted to vice-captain ahead of pace bowler Suranga Lakmal who led the side against the English.

Experienced batsman Lahiru Thirimanne has won a recall, as has pace bowler Nuwan Pradeep, while wicket-keeper batsman Sadeera Samarawickrama will be hoping to break back into the side after playing four tests last year.

Opening batsman Kaushal Silva has been dropped after averaging just 10.25 against England while there is also no room for off-spinner Akila Dananjaya who was recently reported for a suspect bowling action.

Middle-order batsman Roshen Silva will be hoping he can continue the strong form he showed at home with two fifties in two tests, but otherwise the visitors will lean heavily on senior players such as Chandimal, Karunaratne, Angelo Mathews and Dilruwan Perera.

Basin Reserve

The Basin Reserve has been generally favourable for the hosts with the Kiwis losing only two of their past 11 tests at the venue. Ross Taylor enjoys an excellent record here with an average of 57.41 from 11 tests, however with the ball experienced quick Tim Southee has struggled, averaging an unhealthy 45.96.

Key Stats

  • New Zealand have won five of their past seven tests.
  • New Zealand have lost only one of their past 11 tests at home.
  • Sri Lanka have won only four of their past 13 tests.
  • Sri Lanka have won only two of their past eight tests away from home.

The Verdict

New Zealand are comfortable favourites with the draw considered marginally more likely than a Sri Lankan win.

There’s plenty to like about the Black Caps here with their confidence sky-high after overcoming Pakistan and back in familiar climes where they tend to thrive. In captain Williamson they have one of the most talented batsman in the world, to compliment a pace attack that contains a nice variety of speed, swing and grit.

Meanwhile Sri Lanka face a tough task after their batsmen struggled to get a foothold against England’s spinners, which suggests that they could be in real trouble once they have to face up to the Kiwi’s quicks.

Question marks also remain as to whether their own pace bowlers can have enough impact in these conditions, while in the slow-bowling department they continue to suffer without the now-retired Rangana Herath.

The draw shapes as an interesting proposition here and will likely shorten if New Zealand bat first given the expectation of a high total, however even at the relatively healthy price I would not want to be with the draw if the visitors were batting first on a typical seaming Kiwi pitch.

Overall it’s hard to overlook the claims of the hosts in this one. They hold a key advantage both with the bat and in the field, and their success in these conditions only strengthens their case. The odds may be skinny but there is enough there to make this a lump and leave job for me.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – New Zealand at 1.30 or better for 3 units.

After bouncing back with a commanding win in the second test, Pakistan will now be looking to claim the series with another victory over New Zealand in the third and deciding test at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, starting on Monday.

Monday December 3rd, 5.00pm AEDT

Pakistan

Having thrown away the first test, Pakistan’s batsmen quickly went about restoring some pride in Dubai with a patient 147 to left-hander Haris Sohail leading the way.

That innings built the platform for 24-year-old Babar Azam to compile his maiden test ton, stroking an unbeaten 127 while 81 from former captain Azhar Ali also helped the hosts to reach a mammoth 5/418 before declaring late on day two.

At that point Pakistan’s bowlers, or more specifically Yasir Shah, took control, routing the Kiwis for just 90 with Yasir returning a career-best 8/41. After being asked to follow on the visitors did a far better job in their second innings, though it was not enough to avoid an innings defeat as they were eventually dismissed for 312 with Yasir backing up his first innings effort with a tireless 6/143 from a staggering 44.5 overs.

Although they will take plenty of confidence into the series decider Pakistan have been hit by the loss of star quick Mohammad Abbas to a shoulder injury, potentially opening the door for Shaheen Afridi to make his test debut.

New Zealand

After the miracle in Abu Dhabi, the Black Caps will be bitterly disappointed with their efforts at the Dubai International Stadium, starting with a toothless effort from their bowlers with particular focus on spinners Ajax Patel and Ish Sodhi who between them returned the unflattering figures of 1/183 off 61 overs.

However without doubt the most shocking element of New Zealand’s performance was their first innings with the bat, especially as openers Jeet Raval (31) and Tom Latham (22) got them to 50 without loss, before they lost all ten wickets for just 40.

Latham also made a patient half-century in the second innings with 50 off 158 balls, while middle-order pair Ross Taylor (82) and Henry Nicholls (77) also raised the bat, however with none of the three going on to make triple-figures the Kiwis were unable to set another tricky fourth-innings total for Pakistan.

With no fifties in his past eight test innings’ there is some pressure on Raval’s spot in the side, while off-spinner Will Somerville could also be called up, most likely for Sodhi.

Sheikh Zayed Stadium

Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Stadium is the scene of New Zealand’s extraordinary first test escape, however it shouldn’t hold too many nightmares for the home side who have lost only twice there in 12 tests. If the Black Caps were hoping for a let-up from Yasir, they are sorely mistaken with the leg-spinner having taken 39 wickets from just six tests here at the impressive average of 22.53.

Key Stats

  • Pakistan have lost only one of their past 11 test series’ in the UAE.
  • Pakistan have lost only two of their 12 tests played at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
  • New Zealand have won only one of their past five test series’ away from home.
  • New Zealand haven’t won a test series in Asia since 2008.

The Verdict

Pakistan are clear, if not overwhelming, favourites ahead of New Zealand with the draw considered the least likely result.

Having conjured up a way to lose the first test, Pakistan were back to their dominant best in the second, combining obdurate batting with lethal and relentless spin bowling.

There’s no doubt that the loss of Abbas is significant, however with Yasir in rare form and their batsmen regaining plenty of confidence in Dubai, the home side look an attractive price here.

It’s hard to be with the Black Caps after their dismal first innings effort last week and while their batsmen showed more application in the second dig, they still failed to go on and post a big score, a problem that remained from the first test.

Furthermore their bowlers looked out of ideas, highlighting just how fortunate they were to get away with a result in the series opener.

Although the draw is a big price I can’t entertain taking a position on a stalemate considering that Pakistan lost 6/41 to surrender the first test, then the Black Caps lost all ten wickets for 40 on what was a relatively benign surface in Dubai.

Betting Strategy

With their tails up after a thumping win in the second test, it’s hard to overlook Pakistan here. Like many others New Zealand have a long history of struggles in the sub-continent and I expect that to continue with the home side securing a series victory in this one.

 BACK – Pakistan at 1.60 or better for 2 units.


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