Over their last three Tests, Pakistan have run up scores of 454 and 286 for 2, 570 for 6 and 293 for 3, 566 for 3 and 175 for 2. Aside from three crushing victories, two against Australia and one over New Zealand, Misbah-ul-Haq winning the toss and choosing to bat has been the common denominator. But Tom Latham, the New Zealand opener who made a century in defeat in Abu Dhabi, wants to see how Pakistan cope with chasing the game.
The odds of Brendon McCullum calling correctly in Dubai, where the second Test begins on Monday, are exactly the same as always, a one-in-two chance, so Latham will be hoping for a bit of luck to go New Zealand’s way if they are to get back into the series with two Tests to play. If not, the match may follow a familiar script.
“If we can put them under pressure, if we bat first and put runs on the board – in the series against Australia and our first Test they’ve been batting first both times and haven’t been put under pressure,” Latham said. “They’ve put big totals on the board and their spinners have been able to bowl to us. If we win the toss and put a big score on the board, hopefully we can turn things around.”
Latham’s first-innings century was a positive note for New Zealand, following on from the 22-year-old’s impressive tour of the Caribbean. McCullum’s team have not lost a Test series in 18 months and recovered from losing in Trinidad to take the deciding match of the West Indies series, something which Latham looked to for encouragement.
“It’s disappointing to be 1-0 down in the series but with two matches left we’ve got a huge amount of work to do and a good opportunity to right a few wrongs,” he said. “This side’s shown in the past, in the West Indies where we lost the second Test and then came back and won the last one and won the series, so it’s been done before and hopefully we can do it again.”
New Zealand were bowled out twice for under 300 in Abu Dhabi and while Pakistan’s spinners were again to the fore, left-arm seamer Rahat Ali was named Man of the Match for his six-wicket haul. Latham said New Zealand had been practising batting against reverse swing at the ICC academy facilities in Dubai as they look for the all-round improvement demanded by coach, Mike Hesson.
“We’ve got the keys to what we need in every area,” Latham said. “If we look at our batting, we weren’t quite on, we lost wickets in clumps which gives the Pakistanis momentum… With the bowling, we toiled hard and the wickets were pretty unresponsive to seam, so if we can get a few early wickets with the new ball then hopefully that will start us off.
“Spirits are still high, we’re a team that gets on really well. I think that’s pretty important, especially when you are 1-0 down in the series. Confidence is still up, the boys are keen to get back out there and turn it around.”