New Zealand host Pakistan in the first Test match at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch on Wednesday (16 November).
Where to watch live
Match starts at 9.30pm GMT (Wednesday night). Live coverage of the game in the UK is available on Sky Sports 3 and Sky Sports 3 HD. Click here for the live streaming link.
The hosts New Zealand just like their Trans-Tasman neighbours have not had a good time in the five-day format off late losing six out of the nine Test matches they have played in 2016 and come into this series on the back of a disastrous tour of India where they were swept 3-0 in the Tests, also losing the five-match One Day International (ODI) series 3-2.
While the team as a whole performed poorly, there were few players who stood out especially all-rounder Mitchell Santner and pacer Trent Boult who emerged from the tour with credit. Recently coach Mike Hesson came out and said that he expected a better performance from the team considering they are playing in familiar conditions at home.
In Ross Taylor, Tim Southee, Boult and skipper Kane Williamson the hosts have players who are capable of winning matches on their own, but what the team will be looking for is consistency. Opening batsman Martin Guptill has been axed from the squad due to poor form while Doug Bracewell, Jeetan Patel, Luke Ronchi and Ish Sodhi also miss out. Uncapped batsman Jeet Raval and all-rounder duo of Colin de Grandhomme and Todd Astle have been picked as their replacements.
Their opponents and the number two ranked side in the world, Pakistan are on a roll and come into this series on the back of a 2-1 win over West Indies. Such has been their improvement in the five-day format that many are backing the visitors to win the series and are the definite favourites.
A feature of the Pakistani side over the past year has been the consistent performances from key players who have contributed at crucial times with Younis Khan, Azhar Ali, Yasir Shah, Asad Shafiq and skipper Misbah-ul-Haq the bedrock of the side.
While the batting looks settled, the bowling line-up barring Yasir Shah has struggled to make an impact with Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz not consistent enough to win matches with the ball. Coach Mickey Arthur has admitted that consistency especially in the bowling department is a problem but with the addition of Sohail Khan they know they will get a bowler who is on the ball hundred percent of the time.
The visitors have made two changes from the team that faced West Indies with opener Sharjeel Khan and batsman Mohammad Rizwan coming in while left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar was left out.
Pakistan to win
Betting Odds (betfair)
- New Zealand to win: 6/5
- Draw: 17/10
- Pakistan to win: 11/4
Squad: Kane Williamson (c), Todd Astle, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Jimmy Neesham, Jeet Raval, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling (wk).
Squad: Misbah-ul-Haq (c), Azhar Ali, Sami Aslam, Sharjeel Khan, Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Mohammad Rizwan, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Rahat Ali, Sohail Khan, Imran Khan.