New Zealand

Williamson eager to make most of home test

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Yesterday would have been an odd feeling for Kane Williamson.

The Black Caps captain is used to waking up on Christmas morning in a hotel room.

But for the first time in, well, Williamson was not exactly sure how long it had been, but he was home for Christmas.

“It is a slightly different feeling when you have Christmas and you are in a hotel room somewhere,” he said before the Boxing Day test against Pakistan in Mount Maunganui today.

“It will be really nice to spend it with family this year and I know all the guys pretty much have their families around as well.”

Williamson and wife Sarah Raheem welcomed a baby girl into the world earlier this month, so that would have made for an extra special day.

But the focus will shift from nappies and presents to wickets and runs today.

Pakistan gathered some momentum with its win in the final T20 in Napier on Tuesday.

The tourists have a threatening bowling line-up and it will fall on the likes of Williamson to help blunt the attack.

The Black Caps have the added incentive of playing for a spot in the World Test Championship Final at Lord’s.

“The context of that is great for the game … but our focus is to basically start again and adapt to the conditions,” he said.

“We know how good Pakistan are and we going to have to be at our best from that first day here in the Mount.”

The Black Caps swept the West Indies 2-0 and a 2-0 series win against Pakistan would leave the side well-placed to make the World Test Championship Final.

Pakistan has lost a third player to injury. All-rounder Shadab Khan has a thigh injury and has been replaced in the test squad by left-arm spinner Zafar Gohar.

The tourists had already lost key batsman Babar Azam to a finger injury and Imam-ul-Haq to a thumb injury.

Khan is expected to be sidelined for at least a week.

Gohar (25) made his international debut in a one-dayer against England in 2015 but has not played since.

He is reported to have missed an opportunity to play test cricket against England in the UAE the same year because he slept through the departure announcement.

“Any time you play Pakistan you know the depth of talent that they have, whether it is guys coming in who haven’t played a whole heap or a number of other experienced players, you always know they are a huge threat.

“We are fully aware of that.”

Williamson was not giving away much when asked who might make the starting XI and whether spinner Mitchell Santner would played instead of all-rounder Daryl Mitchell, who grabbed three catches in the third T20 against Pakistan.

He wanted to have a good look at the pitch before that call was made. However, he expects the pitch to wear which bodes well for Santner’s prospects.

A good crowd is expected today.

New Zealand v Pakistan

Mount Maunganui, 11am

Record: New Zealand 12, Pakistan 25, 

draws 21

Most runs: Javed Miandad (Pak) 1919 

runs at 79.95

High score: Inzamam-ul-Haq (Pak) 

329, Lahore, 2002

Most wickets: Waqar Younis (Pak) 70 

at 19.60

Best bowling (innings): Yasir Shah 

(Pak), eight for 41, Dubai, 2018

Squads —

New Zealand: Tom Latham, Tom 

Blundell, Kane Williamson (c), Ross 

Taylor, Henry Nicholls, Daryl Mitchell, 

BJ Watling, Kyle Jamieson, Tim 

Southee, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult, 

Mitchell Santner, Will Young.

Pakistan: Shan Masood, Abid Ali, 

Azhar Ali, Mohammad Rizwan (c), 

 Haris Sohail, Fawad Alam, Sarfaraz 

Ahmed, Faheem Ashraf, Yasir Shah, 

Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Abbas, 

Imran Butt, Zafar Gohar, Sohail Khan.

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