Away wins in Test match cricket are becoming increasingly rare and nowhere has that been more pertinent in recent years than in New Zealand.
The Black Caps have proved unbeatable on home soil in the past few years, winning 11 and drawing three of their 14 Tests since their last defeat on home soil at the hands of South Africa in March 2017.
Of those 11 victories seven have been by an innings highlighting the size of the task facing Pakistan in the pair’s three-match series which begins at the Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui on Christmas Day.
Under the steady stewardship of captain Kane Williamson, New Zealand have risen to number two in the Test rankings – behind only Antipodean rivals Australia – and they look likely to stay among the upper echelons of the five-day game for some time yet.
The Black Caps are an extremely well-balanced unit, complementing a dependable batting line-up with a varied attack, and whoever is selected rarely lets their team down. All of their squad know their designated role and, more often than not, they deliver.
New Zealand are a side greater than the sum of their parts but that’s not to say they don’t have star quality. Williamson is rightly talked about among the best batsmen of his generation and, with the ball, Trent Boult is a constant threat in home conditions.
Latham Can Steal Williamson Thunder
Opener Tom Latham sometimes goes under the radar due to the continued excellence of his captain, but the left-hander is a dependable run-scorer who relishes playing in front of his own fans.
An overall Test average of 42.65 is good in its own right but that jumps to just shy of 49 on home soil and six of his 11 Test centuries have come in New Zealand, including a career best 264 not out against Sri Lanka in 2018.
When Latham reaches three figures he tends to cash in – four of his six home tons have been innings of over 150 runs. He looked in decent touch in both of the Black Caps’ innings victories over West Indies earlier this month and could be worth an interest at
33/10 to top the hosts’ first innings run-scoring.
Rizwan to Lead Weakened Pakistan’s Counter
Pakistan won a lot of admirers for their attacking cricket in this summer’s series in England but they won’t be at full strength for at least the first match of their series in New Zealand.
Captain Babar Azam, their premier batsman in all formats, has been ruled out of the match at the Bay Oval with a thumb injury, while opener Imam Ul-Haq (thumb) and spinner Shadab Khan (thigh) will also be absent.
Mohammed Rizwan will lead the tourists in Babar’s absence and he could be worth a punt at
6/1 in the top Pakistan first-innings run-scorer market.
Rizwan was a thorn in the side of England’s bowling attack at times in the summer, posting half-centuries in each of the last two Tests in Southampton.
England made early inroads into Pakistan’s unit with the swinging ball and with home trio Boult, Tim Southee and Neil Wagner likely to pose just as many questions at the start of the innings, lower-order defiance could be crucial for Pakistan.
As you would expect for a side so dominant home, New Zealand are strong
4/13 favourites to win in Mount Maunganui, with Pakistan
19/4 and the draw a
*All odds correct at time of writing