In what will be their last Test of the ongoing World Test Championship (WTC) cycle, Pakistan will take on New Zealand in the second and final Test of the ongoing series in Karachi from Monday. While the hosts, who are knocked out of the race to make the WTC final, will be hoping to start the year on a winning note and more importantly avoid three home series losses in a row, the visitors will be keen to coup a rare win. The Kiwis beat Pakistan in UAE four years ago, but in Karachi they will have the opportunity to down the Men in Green in their own backyard. For the Black Caps too, however, victory will not aid WTC chances, for they, too, are out of reckoning to make it to the final.
Monday’s encounter will be the third Test in Karachi in this ongoing home stretch for Pakistan, with the venue having hosted the final encounter against England and the first Test of this ongoing series. While against England we witnessed a wicket that offered a lot for the spinners, the first Test of this series oversaw a flat wicket where both sides failed to take 20 wickets.
It’ll be tough to predict just how the wicket will play on Monday, but we can say the following with authority: expect little assistance for the seam bowlers here.
60 wickets have fallen overall at the National Stadium in Karachi during this home summer, and of the 60, only 9 wickets have been taken by seamers. NINE.
Karachi, put simply, has been a graveyard for seamers so frankly, you can confidently rule out the possibility of quick bowlers wreaking havoc.
While you could go for the above team, you can also choose your team from Cricket.com’s Fantasy Research Centre. You can use this tool to build your team with the help of algorithms. Then, based on your preferences, the platform will guide you through creating the ideal fantasy XI.
For small leagues: Kane Williamson (capt), Babar Azam (vice-capt)
For grand leagues: Tom Latham (capt), Kane Williamson (vice-capt)
Stats that matter
Williamson’s average of 68.66 against Pakistan is the highest among nations against whom he’s played 10 or more Tests. Williamson’s last six Test innings against Pakistan: 200*, 238, 21, 129, 139 and 89.
Babar Azam averages a whopping 81.77 in Karachi. He’s struck three Test hundreds here and his last 5 scores at the venue read 14, 161, 54, 78 and 196.
Abdullah Shafique is not in great nick. He’s been averaging 17.57 in his last 7 home innings compared to the 85.16 he managed in his first 7.
In his career, Ajaz Patel averages 22.90 in the second match of a series as compared to 41.33 in the first. Evidently a slow starter, he could very well be the one to watch out for.
Grand League punts
Captaining or vice-captaining a bowler in Pakistan would be highly risky under any circumstance, so it’d be highly advisable to back the batters, even if it’s the popular option. In case you want to be funky and stand out, it won’t be a bad call to go in with Latham and Mitchell as your trump-cards. The obvious options, of course, are Williamson and Babar.
We saw how much of a graveyard Karachi is to the seamers, thus it’s advisable to stack the side with spinners.
Here are the Top 10 Criclytics projections
Pakistan: Abdullah Shafique, Imam-ul-Haq, Shan Masood, Babar Azam (c), Saud Shakeel, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Agha Salman, Nauman Ali, Abrar Ahmed, Naseem Shah, Mir Hamza / Mohammad Wasim Jr / Shahnawaz Dahani
New Zealand: Tom Latham, Devon Conway, Kane Williamson, Henry Nicholls, Daryl Mitchell, Tom Blundell (wk), Michael Bracewell, Tim Southee (c), Ish Sodhi, Neil Wagner / Matt Henry / Tickner, Ajaz Patel