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Blackcaps coach previews Second Test against Pakistan

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Saturday, 24 November 2018, 2:45PM
Ajaza Patel and Ross Taylor. Photo / Photosport

Listen above as Blackcaps coach Gary Stead joins Jason Pine to preview tonight's test in Dubai.

A rare away test victory hasn't made selections any easier for the Black Caps.

A four-run win over Pakistan was a superb start to a summer of tests but the manner of the victory also exposed some issues in the side, as well as areas where they could hammer home an advantage.

As a result, another New Zealand cricket rarity - making changes to a winning team - could be on the cards. The main area of concern for coach Gary Stead and captain Kane Williamson is the balance of the side.

Already possessing a long tail, heat has come on all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme, who has looked out of touch with the bat and unspectacular with the ball. However, dropping de Grandhomme would create issues.

If an extra bowler is preferred, it would leave Ish Sodhi likely to bat at seven - probably two spots too high - while opting for an extra batsman in Tom Blundell would leave just four specialist bowlers. Neither option is ideal, and would place pressure on specialists to perform in tough conditions.

Even if de Grandhomme retains his place, the success of Ajaz Patel and Sodhi during the fourth innings in Abu Dhabi has raised questions about whether the Black Caps could select three spinners in their XI, with Will Somerville a chance for his test debut.

It would leave just one specialist fast bowler in the side, and while Neil Wagner proved pivotal in helping New Zealand to victory, it would be an incredibly bold call to snub Trent Boult, whose four wickets in the first innings kept New Zealand in the test when their early deficit could have got out of hand.

Black Caps spin bowling coach Paul Wiseman is expecting the Dubai pitch to provide at least as much spin assistance, putting Somerville in the selectors' minds.

"I don't think we'll expect anything different here in Dubai - by the sounds of it, it's a pretty barren looking pitch, so we expect to face a lot of spin and obviously for our boys to bowl a lot of overs," said Wiseman.

"The wickets we play on in test cricket [in New Zealand] probably aren't as conducive but it's nice when the guys get their chance over here in helpful conditions."


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