Out for the national anthems – Pakistan, the guest nation, will go first, followed by New Zealand, the hosts. A proud moment, no doubt, for Mohammad Rizwan, leading Pakistan for the first time. Openers Blundell and Latham out at the center. The latter will take strike against Shaheen Afridi.
Pitch Report (Craig Macmillan and Grant Elliot): A little bit of grass here, not as much as Hamilton and the Basin Reserve, but you always bowl first in New Zealand. There will be pace and bounce, but Pakistan will be under pressure to get the ball in the right areas. It’s about getting the ball full and moving, and Mohammad Abbas will be key. This one is slightly drier, and it gives you the insurance policy to spin on Day 4 and 5, that’s why NZ are going in with Santner this time.
New Zealand (Playing XI): Tom Latham, Tom Blundell, Kane Williamson(c), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling(w), Mitchell Santner, Kyle Jamieson, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult
Pakistan (Playing XI): Shan Masood, Abid Ali, Azhar Ali, Fawad Alam, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Rizwan(w/c), Faheem Ashraf, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Abbas, Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah
Kane Williamson | New Zealand captain: We were going to have a bowl, but its now important to form partnerships like the last series. The wicket can deteriorate a little, so we’d like to put on a first innings total and try pile the pressure on them. Ross Taylor’s longevity is commendable, and that’s an incredble achievement from him (most capped NZ player of all time across formats). Santner gets the nod for this Tests, we’re going in with him.
Mohammad Rizwan | Pakistan captain:(On captaincy debut) The pitch is green and we need to take early advantage of the moisture, hence we want to bowl first. The conditions are difficult in New Zealand, but the guys are confident of performing here. It’s difficult to say how prepared we are because we only got 3 days, but we are confident we’re going to do well. \n