DUBAI: New Zealand have been undefeated over their last five Test series. This year, they had clung to a 1-0 lead over India with a stunning show of defiance in Wellington, trumped hosts West Indies 2-1 for their first series win away from home against a Full Member in 12 years, and capped it off by coming from behind to draw with Pakistan, a team they have tended to struggle against.
Mike Hesson, the head coach, was pleased with how his team has adapted to the challenges they have faced in the past 15 months. “There’s a lot of satisfaction from the group and how we’ve got about it in different conditions,” he said. “Obviously we’ve been able to create history in West Indies and to win a Test over here, where historically we really struggle – ’96 was a really good tour for the Black Caps over here, but other than that we’ve got a history of losing pretty badly over here.
“So to be able to bounce back from 0-1 gave the team a lot of satisfaction.”
Though they were thoroughly outplayed in the first Test in Abu Dhabi, New Zealand had “showed the initial improvement in Dubai”, according to Hesson.
Brendon McCullum and the rest of the line-up made a conscious effort to upset Pakistan’s spinners Yasir Shah and Zulfiqar Babar, who have been critical to Pakistan’s dominance in the UAE this season, and Hesson said that contributed greatly to the team coming back from 0-1 down to square the series.
“It is very difficult to survive when you have four guys around the bat, and often the only way to change that is to be pretty proactive,” he said. “I think there’s no doubt we probably took that to extremes at times and some of the strokeplay was astounding, really, and that allowed us to play with no guys around the bat and push a lot of singles.”
With the limited-overs series coming up, Hesson is hopeful that his batsmen can continue to be the play-makers.
“Top-order runs,” he said. “I think if you’re able to set the game up with top-order runs over here, then you allow your power to come later on and put the cream on. They are a side that keeps attacking throughout the innings so if our top-order players are able to set that platform then that gives us a chance to set good scores. And I think also with the ball, that ability to keep taking wickets [is key].”
The first of two T20s is set for Thursday, and the five-ODI series begins on Monday. Agencies
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