Asian side have not beaten Black Caps in seven years, but captain eyes breakthrough ahead of first Test which starts in Abu Dhabi on Friday
Sarfraz Ahmed bullish about Pakistan's Test fortunes against New Zealand
Sarfraz Ahmed is confident Pakistan will win their first Test series against New Zealand in seven years as the teams prepare to lock horns again in the five-day format this week.
Pakistan have not beaten the Black Caps in a Test series since 2011, but captain Sarfraz believes his men are bringing much-needed momentum to Abu Dhabi where the first of the three matches gets under way on Friday.
“We have had a good campaign after the Asia Cup, and obviously want to carry on with the results we have had thereafter,” he said, referring to their semi-final exit in the continent's biggest 50-overs tournament held in the UAE in September.
Indeed, Pakistan have enjoyed a good run of form since the Asia Cup. They beat Australia in their bilateral Test and Twenty20 series. Then they crushed New Zealand 3-0 in T20s while the ODI series was shared 1-1 after the third match ended in a 'no result' due to rain in Dubai.
“It’s not going to be easy, but we are playing good cricket in all formats at the moment. New Zealand are a good side and gave us tough times both in the Twenty20s and one-day internationals.”
The return of leg-spinner Yasir Shah and medium pacer Mohammed Abbas will also help bolster the home team.
Abbas, who made his debut last year, has 59 wickets from his first 10 Tests and will be backed by the spin pair of Yasir and Bilal Asif.
“Abbas has been bowling superbly while Yasir didn’t look as great as we had expected, but in this series I expect more from him,” Sarfraz said.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson, who returns to the side after skipping the final ODI due to a groin injury, said his team have prepared well for the series.
“Naturally there is a lot of work to do in terms of the overseas sides adapting to the conditions as best as they can,” he said.
“This is a fresh series. They obviously had a successful time against Australia so it’s important we try and take some lessons and play our best cricket.”
New Zealand levelled the Test series 1-1 in their last meeting with Pakistan in the UAE four years ago. Then they beat the Asians 2-0 at home two years later.
“We had a great series the last time we were here, which is a long time back, but lot has changed since then in terms of players,” Williamson said.
“I think it’s important that we adapt with this inexperienced side that we have come with here, and look to learn as we can, and do that quickly because we want to be playing our best cricket under these conditions.”
Williamson said he, unsurprisingly, did not find a lot of grass on the Abu Dhabi pitch.
“That probably is what you expect in this part of the world and perhaps to offer the spin bowlers a little bit may be later on in the game," he said. "So it looks like it has pretty normal characteristics of a wicket in this part of the world."