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Pakistan, NZ play first Test in Abu Dhabi today

Pakistan, NZ play first Test in Abu Dhabi today

hrkABU DHABI: Pakistan and New Zealand will play the first Test match between of the series at Abu Dhabi today (Sunday).

The match will start at 11am (PST).

Pakistan have made no changes to the squad that one the Test series against Australia.

New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum on Saturday targeted an improvement in his side’s Test rankings going into the series against Pakistan starting in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

New Zealand, currently ranked seventh among 10 Test playing nations, can climb the ladder if they win the three-match series, a target McCullum sets his sights on.

“If we perform well against Pakistan then we can look back on the last 18 months of pretty solid work and we are aware that we are a team who need to keep performing day in, day out because we are well down the ladder in the rankings and we are not happy with that,” McCullum said on Saturday.

“We want to keep improving and we work incredibly hard and this is a great opportunity to do so.”

A 1-0 victory in the three-Test series for New Zealand would lift them to sixth position with Pakistan, currently third, dropping to fifth position.

A 2-0 win would push them into fifth with Pakistan slipping to sixth.

McCullum admitted Pakistan are tough opponents.

“I think obviously Pakistan were excellent in their most recent series against Australia and thoroughly deserved their win,” said McCullum of Pakistan’s 2-0 over Australia.

McCullum hoped his team would prove a different prospect to Australia.

“I think we have nice mix in the group with right and left option (in batting) which probably Australia didn’t have in the middle against the spin and hopefully that’s one of the factors that can help us combat their line up.”

McCullum confirmed his team will play both the spinners — Ish Sodhi and Mark Craig — with two all-rounders in Jimmy Neesham and Corey Anderson and two seamers Tim Southee and Trent Boult.

McCullum will open the innings with Rod Latham, a role he has successfully done in the past.

Misbah warned New Zealand are not to be taken lightly despite their low ranking.

“If you see the ranking then Australia are way above New Zealand but in international cricket rankings don’t play a major part.

“New Zealand is a kind of team that can really surprise you and one has to be aware of that. We have to be really focused against them because they can really give us a tough time,” said Misbah, who will become Pakistan’s most successful captain with 15 victories if he wins the match. He currently has 14 Test wins along with Imran Khan and Javed Miandad.

“We just can’t take them lightly and we will have to play good cricket against them to win,” he added.

“We don’t want to be reluctant and lazy against New Zealand. We want to be focused and just do our basics right and try to play like we did against Australia.”

Pakistan are likely to retain the same XI which won the second Test by 356 runs against Australia at the same venue.

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