Pakistan vs New Zealand: Kiwi coach Mike Hesson hopes familiar conditions will stem losing streak
New Zealand coach Mike Hesson believed any mental scars from the Test defeats in India have already healed and the batsmen would have the chance to return to form in favourable conditions.
Wellington: New Zealand coach Mike Hesson hopes a return to familiar conditions will help stem a four-Test losing streak when his side meets Pakistan in a two-match series starting on Thursday in Christchurch.
Hesson said the New Zealand players have moved on from recent away losses in South Africa and India and are determined to continue an impressive recent run of form in Test matches at home.
"I think we've won seven out of our 11 Tests at home in the last three years, with a couple of draws and a couple of losses," Hesson said. "You do that because conditions are familiar to you and you adapt quicker than other sides.
"We've been stressing the fact that we need to prepare for conditions that we're more familiar with. It's a matter of going through that rather than reliving India."
After losing its two-Test series in South Africa 1-0, New Zealand was swept 3-0 by India, losing all three Tests by large margins. None of the New Zealand batsmen come into the Pakistan series with the confidence of having a large number of runs behind them: none reached a century in the three Tests in India.
The Kiwis failed against the spin bowling of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, who shared 41 wickets in three Tests, but Hesson believes they will be more comfortable at home where spin will be less of a factor.
Hesson said the pitch at Christchurch's Hagley Oval would have pace and bounce throughout the match and would likely be ideal for batting. He believed any mental scars from the Test defeats in India have already healed and the batsmen would have the chance to return to form in favourable conditions.
"There was a period of having to deal with dented confidence but that was some time ago," Hesson said. "At the time we needed to dwell on some of the areas we hadn't performed well in and we've done that.
"We'll be challenged by this Pakistan (bowling) attack, there's no doubt about that. They've got an attack that suits all conditions around the world. They swing the new ball, they reverse it and they've got a very good spinner."
New Zealand hasn't beaten Pakistan in a Test series in New Zealand since 1985 and will again start as underdogs against the tourists, who are ranked No 2 in Test cricket.
Captain Kane Williamson indicated opening batsman Jeet Raval will make his debut for New Zealand in Christchurch, though the remainder of the line-up has yet to be decided. All-rounder Colin de Grandhomme is also being considered for a Test debut and Todd Astle might return to the team as a specialist spinner after four years out.
Misbah-ul-Haq will captain Pakistan in a Test match for the 50th time and, at 42, remains the nucleus of the Pakistan batting line-up with 37-year-old Younis Khan.
Pakistan has also yet to finalise its line-up but coach Mickey Arthur said he expected Hagley Oval to provide a "good, fair cricket wicket".
"We've got some pretty handy swing and seam bowlers as well," Arthur said. "I still think it's going to be top seven (batsmen) versus top seven really because both sides possess really good bowling attacks in all departments, seam swing, pace and spin."
Williamson on Thursday described his hamstring injury a "minor" one but admitted that an elbow niggle is affecting his grip even as he played down concerns over his fitness ahead of the Kiwis' T20 World Cup opener against Pakistan on 26 October.
After putting on board a modest 141 for 7, SRH returned to limit RCB to 137 for six for only their third win in the league.
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