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Pakistan arrive in NZ at full-strength

Pakistan is to field a Test-strength side for the opening match of their New Zealand tour, while New Zealand's top echelon was riddled with injuries.

india Updated: Dec 12, 2003 09:47 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Pakistan is to field a test-strength side for the opening match of their New Zealand cricket tour, coach Javed Miandad said Friday, while New Zealand's top echelon was riddled with injuries.

"It will be the only game before the test," Miandad said of the three-day match against Auckland starting Sunday.

"We are going to put the full-strength team out."

Pakistan have just completed a 5-0 one-day whitewash of an under-strength New Zealand side at home, with the Black Caps counting injuries to captain Stephen Fleming, quick bowler Shane Bond and top order batsman Nathan Astle.

Bond and Astle have already been ruled out of this new series, while Fleming, who is suffering a stomach injury, is to use a provincial match starting Friday as a fitness test.

"How he copes in that match will give us a clear indication of whether or not he is fit enough to be considered for test selection," New Zealand coach John Bracewell said.

All-rounder Chris Cairns, who deputised for Fleming as captain in Pakistan, is also using a provincial match to prove his stamina after not playing in a test for nearly two years because of injury.

Miandad said Pakistan had been playing well after rebuilding following their disappointing performance at the World Cup in South Africa earlier this year.

In the past three months, they have beaten Bangladesh 3-0 in tests and 5-0 in one-dayers, beaten South Africa 1-0 in a test series but lost the one-dayers 2-3, and cleaned out New Zealand in a one-day series.

But Miandad was also aware that conditions on tour could favour the home side.

"I and the players understand that New Zealand have a good team and the conditions are different. The conditions always suit the New Zealanders."

The pitch in Hamilton for the first test starting next Friday is expected to have a green top after wet weather hampered preparations, but Miandad said he would rather wait and see.

"We have to see what kind of the conditions we are going to get on the day," he said.

"People are talking about the conditions, but it's not that -- New Zealand cricket has improved a lot."

The second test in the series starts on December 26 to be followed by five one-day matches in January.

First Published: Dec 12, 2003 08:24 IST