New Zealand eyes top spot in second Pakistan Test

New Zealand will rise to the top of the world rankings for the first time if it avoids defeat against Pakistan in the second Test in Christchurch.

Kane Williamson and Matt Henry at a training session in Christchurch on Friday. - TWITTER (@BLACKCAPS)

New Zealand will rise to the top of the world rankings for the first time if it avoids defeat against Pakistan in the second Test in Christchurch and wrap up its two-match series.

After seven straight home Test series triumphs, New Zealand will be strong favourite to secure another against a Pakistan side that showed great fight at Mount Maunganui but still lost the first Test by 101 runs.

A victory at Hagley Oval to seal a 2-0 series sweep would also push the Black Caps firmly into contention for one of two berths in June’s inaugural World Test Championship final at Lord’s.

Under the leadership of Kane Williamson, who returned to the top of the world Test batting rankings after his 23rd career century at Bay Oval, the Blacks Caps have developed into possibly the most consistent outfit in the Test game.

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They will, however, need to find a replacement for pace bowler Neil Wagner, who battled through the pain of two broken toes to finish the first Test but will miss the second.

Matt Henry, who was brought into the squad after recovering from a hand injury, is likely to get the nod as a like-for-like replacement with batting all-rounder Daryl Mitchell another option.


A 165-run partnership between Fawad Alam and Mohammad Rizwan stalled New Zealand’s charge to victory at Mount Maunganui and Pakistan will look to draw on that fighting spirit on another green track.

Babar ruled out

The visiting team will continue to be without regular skipper Babar Azam who failed to recover from a fractured thumb sufficiently to take his place in a top order also missing opener Imam-ul-Haq, who has returned home with a similar injury.

Babar trained on Friday but felt some pain in his thumb and the Pakistan team management opted against any risk with a home series against South Africa starting later this month.

The teams were forced to train indoors on Saturday because of rain but the weather forecast looks precipitation-free for Sunday’s first day with the outlook good for the rest of the match.

'I was screaming' - Wagner opens up on bowling with broken toes

New Zealand quick Neil Wagner could not walk at the start of the final day of the first Test against Pakistan after breaking his toes but he said a burning desire to help his team pushed him through the pain barrier.

Wagner played the last three days of the match with broken toes after being hit by a Shaheen Afridi yorker in New Zealand's first innings at the Bay Oval.

The left-arm quick battled through the pain and went on to claim two second innings wickets, including that of centurion Fawad Alam, as the hosts prevailed with 4.3 overs remaining on the final day.

"On the last day I couldn't walk getting out of bed," Wagner told 1 News. "I sort of fell to the ground quite frustrated and quite angry, and just wanted to get out there and play.

"As I tried to walk, the pain got worse and worse, and I got the frozen vegetables out of the fridge and a couple of icebags and tried to ice it a couple of times."

Wagner said he was forced to take multiple injections to try and numb the pain.

"About the 12th injection on the day, I started screaming and squealing a bit and biting on the towel," he said. "The injections helped for about two hours then you got to try and bite your teeth, grit and go through it."

"I kept walking back to my mark saying to myself, 'Just one wicket, just one wicket.' The desire to help the team is just there, you know, and it sort of gets you through it."

Wagner is expected to be sidelined for six weeks, with Canterbury fast bowler Matt Henry named as his replacement for the second test, which begins on Sunday at Hagley Oval in Christchurch.

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