Misbah-ul-Haq has challenged Asad Shafiq to earn a recall after he was dropped for Pakistan's tour of New Zealand.

Batsman Shafiq was on Wednesday omitted from a 35-man squad to face the Black Caps after a poor Test series in England.

Mohammad Amir and Shoaib Malik were also omitted from a touring party for three Twenty20 Internationals and two Tests against the Black Caps in December and January.

Uncapped Paceman Amad Butt, batsmen Danish Aziz and Imran Butt were included along with Rohail Nazir as the Pakistan selectors invested in youth.

Pakistan head coach Misbah, who named Mohammad Rizwan as Babar Azam's Test vice-captain and Shadab Khan as T20 deputy, says there can still be a way back for the 34-year-old Shafiq.

He said: "There are three major omissions from the side that toured England. Asad Shafiq has been left out due to lack of form after he managed 510 runs in his last 15 innings, including a total of 67 runs in England.

"Asad is an experienced batsman and I am sure he will utilise this time to work harder on his game in the domestic first-class matches so that he, like Sarfraz Ahmed, can reclaim his form and be back in contention for the upcoming Tests against South Africa and Zimbabwe.

"Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Amir are not part of the white-ball matches as for this tour we have opted to invest, develop and focus on the promising and emerging players who are likely to be available to Pakistan for all formats."

The first T20 will be staged at Eden Park on December 18 and the Test series gets under way at Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui on December 26.

 

Pakistan squad:

Abid Ali, Abdullah Shafique, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Shan Masood, Zeeshan Malik, Babar Azam (captain), Azhar Ali, Danish Aziz, Fawad Alam, Haider Ali, Haris Sohail, Hussain Talat, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imran Butt, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Rizwan, Rohail Nazir, Sarfraz Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Usman Qadir, Yasir Shah, Zafar Gohar, Amad Butt, Faheem Ashraf, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Musa, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Sohail Khan, Wahab Riaz.

Cricket West Indies have launched an international investigation into the circumstances under which members of the Windies touring party breached strict COVID-19 protocols within the team’s Managed Isolation Facility in Christchurch.

The breach has resulted in the team members being unable to train for their final days of isolation prior to their continued preparations for the upcoming T20 series that begin on November 27.

According to reports from New Zealand, NZ Cricket said it found out on Tuesday that some members of the West Indies team had "contravened protocols" within the managed isolation facility in Christchurch.

"These incidents included some players compromising bubble integrity by sharing food, and socializing in hallways,” New Zealand Cricket said.

However, there is no evidence that any members of the touring party left the facility, or that any unauthorized persons accessed it, reports said.

CWI said the New Zealand Ministry of Health advised them that all members of the West Indies touring party will now be unable to train for the remainder of the quarantine period and will have to complete their quarantine within the Managed Isolation Facility only.

“CWI is in full support of the New Zealand Ministry of Health’s position,” CWI said in a statement.

“From the information we have received so far, we have been told that the incidents in question included some players compromising the bubble integrity by mixing between two separate West Indies bubbles into which the touring party had been split.”

Ahead of the tour to New Zealand, the West Indies touring party all returned two negative COVID-19 tests before leaving the Caribbean, and underwent two further tests since they have been in New Zealand. All results were negative.

The players underwent their final scheduled tests yesterday and, results permitting, are scheduled to leave the Managed Isolation Facility on Friday to travel to Queenstown ahead of two warm-up matches against New Zealand “A”.

West Indies all-rounder Rovman Powell believes the team has adequate firepower to put up a strong fight in New Zealand, despite missing a few key players.

Some of the team’s biggest hitters the likes of Andre Russell, Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons, Chris Gayle, and crafty death bowler Dwayne Bravo will all be missing when they take on New Zealand later this month.

The tour will already be a difficult one, with New Zealand proving to traditionally be a difficult place for not just the West Indies, but any team to play.  Powell, however, not only sees the team as having plenty of talent to cover the missing players but also believes it provides an opportunity for younger players looking to establish themselves.

“If you should look at the depth of the team, I think it’s a very good and strong team when it comes to power hitting, even with those guys missing,” Powell told members of the media from the team’s training base in New Zealand.

“What those guys being missing does is provide an opportunity for us as younger players just before the World Cup, the start of cricket 2021, to put our best foot forward and put good performances in place and hopefully that will carry us in good stead,” he added.

The West Indies will be looking to improve on a record that has seen the hosts win the last four T20 internationals that have been played in New Zealand.

 

West Indies leg-spinner Hayden Walsh Jr has lofty dreams of one day becoming the number one bowler in the world and insists he is diligently working towards the target.

The 28-year-old had a good look at just what it takes to get there, recently, having been teammates with top Afghan T20 spinner Rashid Khan for the Barbados Tridentsd uring this season’s Caribbean Premier League (CPL).  Khan, considered by some to be the best in the game, is currently the top-ranked T20 bowler in the world.  It is a position Walsh aspires to one day attain.

“I definitely see myself as being number one in the world.  I want to be number one as a spinner or a bowler,” Walsh told members of the media from the team’s training camp in New Zealand.

Walsh revealed that encountering Khan in this season’s CPL was fruitful, as he was offered plenty of valuable technical advice and also experienced the player’s fiercely competitive mentality first hand.

“I was really in awe of Rashid Khan and having him around.  He taught me a few grips and a few of his googlies that he has in his armoury,” Walsh recalled.

“The one thing I took away, however, is that I am a different bowler from Rashid Khan and I probably just need to be myself sometimes.  I love his mentality.  He is always up for the fight and he never backs down,” he added.

Walsh is part of a 14-man T20 squad that will play against New Zealand in three T20 internationals later this month.

 

 

I use my Sundays to look back at what has been happening in the world of sport. On many a Sunday, I realize that people have looked at the stories they have seen throughout the week through different lenses. I have my own personal take on some of these issues and I will share them with you. Welcome to #INCASEYOUMISSEDIT. 

1. WEST INDIES FACE TOUGH CHALLENGE IN NEW ZEALAND

As West Indies get set to face New Zealand with the opening T20 in Auckland on November 27, followed by the second and third game in Mount Maunganui on November 29 and 30, the West Indies have a huge amount of work to do if they are to be successful during the series.

The Covid-19 pandemic has limited the number of practice sessions and injuries have also dealt a blow to the squad. On form, New Zealand ranked second in Tests and sixth in T20 has a clear advantage. 

In an exclusive interview with former West Indies fast bowler Tony Gray he believes the West Indies will miss the absent players. 

“I think the West Indies T20 team will be very competitive in the three-match series against New Zealand, although they will definitely miss the four senior players Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons, Andre Russell, and Dwayne Bravo, who would of given them a huge advantage mainly because of their international T20 franchise experience, their power hitting ability and, in the case of Bravo, his general all-round contribution, especially his ‘death’ bowling.  

“I think we have enough talent and experience to come away with a 2-1 win in that series.” 

The former Windies selector also weighed in on the Test team. 

“In the case of our Test team, I think we will struggle because of our batsmen’s technical deficiencies and their inability to concentrate for long periods, coupled with the fact that they will be coming up against one of the most disciplined, penetrative and varied bowling attacks in the world, so that our very inexperience batsmen will have to consistently make technical adjustments from bowler to bowler, as we saw in England,” Gray said.  

“The good thing for us is the fact that we had the perfect recent prelude to this tour of New Zealand when we played against England in England, similar playing conditions, similar opposition. 

“Our bowlers will hold their own, in helpful conditions. Head coach Simmons and his coaches have a lot of work to do.” 

Meantime, former wicketkeeper/batsman Sir Deryck Murray believes the tour will be a difficult one for the Caribbean side. 

"It will be difficult to beat New Zealand in New Zealand, particularly as, once again, Windies has not selected the best team. 

“While most of the West Indies players were on the last tour of UK and may therefore be more "match ready", that may not be sufficient for the team to spring a surprise on New Zealand in the Tests. The T20s, however, should be more competitive." 

 

 SHOULD MANCHESTER UNITED SACK OLE GUNNAR SOLSKAER? 

Manchester United’s Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is under pressure after a dismal start to the Premier League campaign that sees the Red Devils languishing in the lower half of the table, with three defeats in their first seven matches. Had they not recorded a 3-1 win over Everton on Saturday, they would have produced the worst start to a league season in 30 years. The results have been so poor many have called for the manager to be sacked. 

However, football analyst Andre Sooklal believes the Red Devils issues go well beyond the manager. 

“Firing Ole Gunner Solskjaer from Manchester United now would not solve the bigger problems at the club. Even if they had a world-class coach lined up, the past has shown that this approach has not worked,” Sooklal said.

“David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho are all top coaches, but they all struggled with the sometimes baffling decision making at the club by Ed Woodward and all left. 

 “To suggest that signing better players would solve the problems at the club would also show massive short-sightedness by everyone involved because that is simply not the case. The club has reportedly spent £850 million in player-transfers since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, which included the likes of players like Di Maria, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Lukaku and Memphis Depay, just to name a few, yet the club continued to struggle.

“The only time was there was a brief positive moment was when the club managed to squeeze out some titles under Jose Mourinho. 

Sooklal said the current manager was hired to rebuild the club around young players and that can be a time-consuming process.

“If Manchester United were to fire Ole now they would have to obtain coach who can immediately turn the results around while building for the future.  The likely candidate it seems is Mauricio Pochettino for now but the decision-makers at Manchester United have to ask themselves if they want to be patient with Ole and let him build his team or cut their losses and go with another coach.”

West Indies head coach Phil Simmons has expressed optimism that the team has added needed firepower to its batting line-up following the return of talented batsman Darren Bravo, ahead of the New Zealand series.

The 31-year-old Bravo, along with Shimron Hetmyer and Keemo Paul, declined not to take part in the team’s tour of England earlier this year, citing health concerns due to the ongoing pandemic. 

Despite winning the first Test with a commendable performance, the West Indies batting line-up went through its typical struggles in the next two, as the series went to England 2-1.  The West Indies's batting performance in the England series was among their worst on tour since 2000, with the top-6 averaging just 28.66 and no century in the entire three-game series.

With such performances, it is little wonder Simmons is excited to get back a couple of his key batsmen.  He is confident Bravo and Hetmyer can make a difference.

“He’s (Bravo) has always been important, to the Test team especially, and it’s good to have him and Shimron back in the squad,” Simmons told members of the media on Friday.

“Where the batting is concerned it will be pressure on people to hold their places, in order to hold their places, they will have to score runs and that is a big plus for us,” he added.

“He is a huge plus for us in these situations.  He has done well here.  He is one of the only batsmen that have high averages in international cricket, so he knows what it takes to score big runs at this level so it’s good to have him back.”

 

New Zealand captain Sam Cane felt his side paid for a lack of accuracy when it mattered as they slipped to a surprising defeat to Australia in the final Bledisloe Cup meeting in 2020. 

The All Blacks had won the previous two meetings between the countries comfortably, including a record 43-5 success a week ago in Sydney that opened their Tri Nations campaign in style. 

However, the Wallabies hit back in Brisbane, coming out on top 24-22 in a game that saw each team have a player sent off in the first half. 

Ofa Tu'ungafasi saw red for a high challenge on wing Tom Wright, though the hosts were also reduced to 14 men when debutant Wallabies flanker Lachlan Swinton was dismissed for leading with the shoulder on Sam Whitelock. 

Both sides also had to spend 10 minutes down to 13 during proceedings, the All Blacks crucially giving up points late on when lock Scott Barrett was in the sin bin. 

Substitute Tupou Vaa'i crossed in the closing minutes to secure the visitors a losing bonus, but Cane felt they could easily have come out on the right side of the result at Suncorp Stadium. 

"It doesn't matter if there's 15 players on each side, or it gets down to 14 versus 14 or 14 versus 13, the game is based on building pressure, playing smart, intensity and accuracy," he told the media. 

"I didn't think we were quite smart enough when we got down, then I thought we bought the intensity but not the accuracy. They did that really well and controlled the game for large parts."

On the dismissals, he added: "It's a fast-moving game and there are big collisions. Every now and then, players are going to get it slightly wrong.  

"I don't think either of those cards were malicious or dirty plays by any means, they were fractionally off. 

"We spend a lot of time practicing perfect technique, but in top-level sport like this, there will be the odd error unfortunately."

With Barrett off the field, Australia capitalised on the opportunity. They managed to drive close enough for a Taniela Tupou try that proved crucial in the final reckoning. 

"There were large parts where I was really proud of our effort," All Blacks coach Ian Foster said in his post-match media conference. 

"I thought we played with a lot of passion at times, certainly applied a lot of pressure, but we couldn't break them in the way that we wanted to.  

"They hung in there and the momentum swung about a bit with some other cards. Scooter's near the end was sort of bad timing for a card, as it put us under immense pressure. 

"If you look at where the game went, particularly in the last 10 minutes, I think the Wallabies were penalised about six times in their own 25, because of the pressure we put them under. That was frustrating."

Dave Rennie was "rapt" after Australia held on for a thrilling 24-22 victory over New Zealand a week after slumping to a record defeat.

Both sides had a man sent off in the first half at Suncorp Stadium, the All Blacks losing Ofa Tu'ungafasi before Wallabies debutant Lachlan Swinton saw red.

New Zealand retained the Bledisloe Cup with one match to spare in the first game of the Tri Nations series at ANZ Stadium last Saturday, hammering their trans-Tasman rivals by a record margin with a 43-5 rout.

Rennie praised the character shown by the men in green and gold seven days later as they secured a seventh straight win at the Brisbane venue.

"I'm rapt," the New Zealander said. "There was a lot of character shown today. We said we wanted a response after last weekend, and we got it."

Tom Wright scored an early try and Taniela Tupou crossed late on before Tupou Vaa'I finished to give the All Blacks hope in the closing stages, but they fell short.

Rennie's decision to play Reece Hodge at fly-half raised eyebrows, but he booted 14 points as Australia restored some pride to give Rennie a first win since he replaced Michael Cheika.

"We talked about scoreboard pressure and we hadn't been able to do that in previous games, and Hodgy kicked pretty well and we got our noses in front and were able to apply a bit more through that," Rennie added.

"We've got a long way to go, we're going to get a lot better, but it's good to get a result like this because it helps with a bit of belief.

"It's only one day, but we'll have a couple of quiet ones to celebrate."

Australia restored some much-needed pride in the fourth and final Bledisloe Cup meeting with New Zealand, sealing a hard-fought 24-22 triumph in a game that saw both teams have a player sent off. 

After a drawn opener between the trans-Tasman rivals in Wellington, the All Blacks had won the previous two meetings by a combined score of 70-12. 

Their record-breaking 43-5 triumph a week ago in Sydney not only secured the trophy but also gave them a successful start to the 2020 Tri Nations, yet the Wallabies responded impressively in Brisbane.

Reece Hodge kicked 14 points, including converting Taniela Tupou's crucial late try, as Australia prevailed despite conceding three tries, the last of which earned New Zealand a losing bonus point.

Australia debutant Tom Wright crossed inside two minutes and, while Rieko Ioane responded soon after for the visitors, the early double did not lead to a glut of points before the break.

Still, there was no lack of drama in the remainder of the first half. After a Hodge penalty made it 8-5, Ofa Tuungafasi was shown a red card after making direct contact with the chin as he emphatically stopped Wright's progress following a jinking run.

However, Ian Foster's men held firm when down a man – even drawing level – before the numbers were evened up, Lachlan Swinton's debut cut short for use of the shoulder on Sam Whitelock. 

Marika Koroibete saw yellow just before the interval for hands in at a ruck to leave Australia down to 13, yet by the time he returned his team were 11-8 ahead thanks to a second successful kick from Hodge. 

While hooker Codie Taylor was driven over by his fellow forwards to put the All Blacks in front, they lost Scott Barrett for 10 minutes to give Australia an opportunity to play against 13 men themselves.

Michael Hooper's side capitalised too, Tupou forcing his way to the line for a try that Hodge converted, adding to a pair of second-half penalties from the number 10.

Substitute Tupou Vaa'i breached a tired defensive line to set up a nervy finish as New Zealand closed the gap, but the Wallabies held on in the closing minutes to have the final say in the 2020 series and make it seven Test wins on the spin at Suncorp Stadium.

West Indies coach Phil Simmons has made it clear that Test captain Jason Holder is always in consideration for the regional T20 team, particularly on the back of several recent eye-catching performances in the CPL and IPL.

Holder last played for the Windies in the shortest format of the game in India last year.  Recently, however, since the resumption of cricket following an enforced break due to the coronavirus pandemic, he has put in a few notable T20 performances.  In the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), Holder was the Barbados Tridents' third-highest scorer with 192 runs in 10 matches and had a high score of 69.  He also made an impact with the ball after claiming 10 wickets, the second-most on the team.

Despite not being initially drafted to the Indian Premier League (IPL), Holder was called up to replace Mitchell Marsh by Sunrisers Hyderabad where he has made a big impact.  The player has, however, not been included in the T20 squad to face New Zealand later this month.

Simmons, however, pointed to scheduling being more of a factor than anything else for the Holder's omission.

“This is an odd tour.  The T20 series here finishes a day, two days before the Test match.  Being captain of the Test team, the decision was taken by us as a selection panel that Jason would not be considered for that part of the tour,” Simmons told members of the media via a Zoom interview on Friday.

"Seeing that he is coming from IPL now, he will have one chance to play in the four-day game before the Test match, so that decision was taken by the panel,” he added.

"Jason is always in consideration for the T20s.  He has had two good years at CPL and now he has had a good tournament at IPL.”

The 2020 season of the Hero CPL is one that Jamaican allrounder Rovman Powell would want to quickly forget.

Australia are under pressure to salvage pride in the final Bledisloe Cup match of the series on Saturday after suffering a harrowing defeat to New Zealand last weekend.

The All Blacks retained the famous trophy in emphatic fashion at ANZ Stadium, taking a 2-0 lead with one match to play by dishing out a 43-5 rout at ANZ Stadium.

Not since 2002 have Australia won the Bledisloe Cup, and they reached a new low when the All Blacks won by a record margin in Sydney.

Victory for New Zealand also gave them a dream start to the Tri Nations series, and Wallabies head coach Dave Rennie has reacted by ringing the changes, springing a surprise by picking Reece Hodge at fly-half.

We use Opta data to preview Bledisloe IV at Suncorp Stadium.

 

Australia v New Zealand

- New Zealand have restricted the Wallabies to single figures in their last two matches. The last time they held them to fewer than 10 points in more consecutive Tests was an 11-game stretch from 1957 to 1964.

- Australia have lost only one of their last four Tests against New Zealand at Suncorp Stadium (W2, D1), and secured a 23-18 win over the All Blacks in their last meeting there in October 2017.

- The Wallabies are winless in their last four Tests (D1, L3). The last time they went more than four games without a victory was a six-game streak from October 2015 to August 2016, which included three losses to New Zealand.

- Australia have won their last six Tests on the bounce at Suncorp Stadium and have not lost at the Brisbane venue since June 2016, when England triumphed 39-28.

- New Zealand are on the cusp of multiple Test wins in Australia in a single calendar year for the first time since 2010.

- James Slipper is set to play his 100th Test, becoming just the 13th player to reach a century of appearances for Australia. His 51 caps from the bench are the joint-most of any player in Wallabies history alongside Tatafu Polota-Nau.

- Australia captain Michael Hooper has scored five Test tries at Suncorp Stadium, more than any other forward. Of all players, only Israel Folau (7) and Stephen Larkham (7) have scored more at the venue.

- Sam Whitelock is set to make his 100th Test start for New Zealand, becoming just the fifth player to start in a century of Tests for the All Blacks. It will be his 120th Test appearance.

James Slipper and Sam Whitelock are set for milestones as seven players prepare to make their debuts when the Wallabies face the All Blacks.

Slipper will become just the 13th player to reach 100 Test appearances for Australia when he lines up in Brisbane on Saturday.

New Zealand have retained the Bledisloe Cup, which they have held since 2003, after last week's 43-5 victory.

While Slipper is set for a landmark appearance, the Wallabies have also named debutants Lachlan Swinton and Tom Wright to start and Angus Bell among the replacements.

"It's going to be a really special night for James in front of his family and friends back at his home ground and I know the team will be doing everything they can to make sure it's a memorable result," Australia coach Dave Rennie said.

"Lachlan, Tom and Angus have been excellent over the past seven weeks and have earned their first jersey for Australia through hard work and good performances. 

"As a whole group we were really disappointed after last weekend and we get a chance to show our character on Saturday in Brisbane."

Australia have lost only one of their past four Tests against New Zealand at Suncorp Stadium, winning two and drawing one.

The All Blacks, who top the Tri Nations table after the win last week, are set to see Whitelock reach a milestone.

Whitelock has been named to make his 100th Test start for New Zealand, becoming just the fifth player to reach that mark.

They have named Akira Ioane for a start on debut, while Asafo Aumua, Cullen Grace and Will Jordan are in line to make their first appearances off the bench.

"We've been really impressed with Akira. He's keen, he's ready and to have his first Test start is pretty special. I know Asafo is also excited for his first Test and he'll bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm when he comes off the bench," All Blacks head coach Ian Foster said.

"Cullen Grace is a young man who has also been very impressive. He's got a nice, quiet demeanour about him, but we know he's excited. Will Jordan has also been working really hard; he's settled in really, really well and he's got a calmness about him. He’s been doing a great job behind the scenes and we're delighted he's got his opportunity."

All Blacks star Beauden Barrett will start at number 10, with Damian McKenzie on the bench.

Australia: Tom Banks, Tom Wright, Jordan Petaia, Hunter Paisami, Marika Koroibete, Reece Hodge, Nic White; James Slipper, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Allan Alaalatoa, Rob Simmons, Matt Philip, Lachlan Swinton, Michael Hooper, Harry Wilson.
Replacements: Folau Fainga'a, Angus Bell, Taniela Tupou, Ned Hanigan, Liam Wright, Tate McDermott, Noah Lolesio, Filipo Daugunu.

New Zealand: Jordie Barrett, Sevu Reece, Anton Lienert-Brown, Ngani Laumape, Rieko Ioane, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara; Karl Tu'inukuafe, Codie Taylor, Ofa Tuungafasi, Scott Barrett, Sam Whitelock, Akira Ioane, Sam Cane, Ardie Savea.
Replacements: Asafo Aumua, Alex Hodgman, Tyrel Lomax, Patrick Tuipulotu, Cullen Grace, Brad Weber, Damian McKenzie, Will Jordan.

West Indies T20 batsman Andre Fletcher insists the team will be hoping to claim an elusive series victory in New Zealand, a venue that has been far from a happy hunting ground in recent times.

In fact, over the last two tours, the regional team has lost its last four games in a row against the Black Caps on their own soil, the most recent a 2-0 defeat in 2017.  Overall, the West Indies have won only once in New Zealand, in 2006, with the other result being a draw in 2009.  It is a record the opening batsman hopes can be improved with the current campaign soon to get underway.

“This is my third time in New Zealand.  The team goal for me is to actually make sure that we can win this series.  My individual goal is to make sure I can get as many runs as possible so that I can actually cement my spot in the T20 squad,” Fletcher said in an interview with windies cricket.

In 12 matches for this season’s CPL, Fletcher scored 211, with a high score of 46 and an average of 21.10 for St Lucia Zouks.  The batsman believes he has improved since then.

“I’ve become a more positive player. My shot selection has improved a lot.  I’ve worked hard on the physical part of my game well.  I’ve been putting in a lot of strength work behind the scenes and it pays off,” he added.

 

Cricket West Indies CEO Johnny Grave believes the addition of Darren Bravo and Shimron Hetmyer and the competition for spaces will see the West Indies Test performing much better in New Zealand than it did in England during the summer.

Bravo and Hetmyer declined invitations to the West Indies squad for the #Raisethebatseries in England in July citing concerns over safety. The West Indies relied on Shamarh Brooks, Shai Hope and Jermaine Blackwood during the series when they won the first Test at Southampton only to capitulate in the remaining two Tests as the home side came from behind to win the series 2-1.

For the tour of New Zealand that begins on November 27 with the first of three T20 Internationals and then two Tests, the West Indies have the services of the two middle order batsman. However, Hope was not selected due to a protracted poor run of form.

Notwithstanding, the Cricket West Indies CEO believes the Caribbean side will deliver a much better showing in what is expected to be a tough series.

“I think touring New Zealand for any team, whatever form you’re in, is challenging, particularly in the Test matches. They haven’t lost a Test match series in New Zealand for years and years against every opposition that they have faced, so we are fully aware of the challenges of playing New Zealand in their home conditions,” Grave said.

“But, I think the Test team has made progress over the last few years and in moments, they’ve obviously won Test matches. What we’re really looking for is winning series, particularly away from home.

“We started the series against England brilliantly, beating them comprehensively in the first Test and we were in a good position in the second Test to seeing out a draw to retain the Wisden trophy but that didn’t happen so I think is hungry to get some championship points in the World Test Championships and also start to prove to themselves that they’re capable of winning series and delivering on that potential.”

This belief, he said, is based on the improvement in the batting driven by competition for places when compared to the team on the England tour.

“Certainly, I am sure the batting line-up will be strengthened and be more competitive with the return of Darren Bravo and Shimron Hetmyer etc,” Grave said.

“It’s going to be more competition for places in that middle order and batting line-up and it’s the batting where we need to show the most improvement because everyone is confident is capable of taking 20 wickets, what we need to do is get enough runs on the board to put whatever team we are playing against under pressure.”

 

 

 

 

 

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