New Zealand Ready for Spin Challenge Against Pakistan
New Zealand's off-spinner Mark Craig said the mood in the camp is pretty good and the players were looking ahead to what would be a tough challenge against Pakistan, who whitewashed Australia recently in a two-Test series.
New Zealand's off-spinner Mark Craig on Friday admitted facing Pakistan in the three-Test series will be a big challenge but his team-mates were ready for it.
The 27-year-old, who made a remarkable debut with eight wickets against the West Indies in June this year, will supplement the slow bowling along with leg-spinner Ish Sodhi. (Pakistan Want Whitewash Momentum Against New Zealand)
The first Test starts in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
Craig said the team was gearing up for the Pakistan challenge.
"The mood in the camp is pretty good and the boys are obviously looking at what's going to be a tough challenge," Craig told reporters.
New Zealand warmed-up for the Test with a drawn three-day game in Sharjah, which Craig feels was a good tune up.
"The good thing is that we have had probably 150 overs in the field in the warm-up game, so we have done plenty of bowling and the boys did well," said Craig.
Sodhi took five wickets in the first innings while Craig had a wicket in each in the two innings.
New Zealand's challenge got bigger after Pakistan thrashed Australia 2-0 in the preceding two-match series, their first win over the Kangaroos in 20 years.
Pakistani batsmen made Australian spinners toil hard as Nathan Lyon managed just three wickets at a costly return of 140.
Craig said Australian spinners did struggle to get wickets, while Pakistan's Zulfiqar Babar (14 wickets) and Yasir Shah (12) forced the batsmen into submission.
"To be honest I did see that Pakistan series but only in bits and pieces. Obviously Australia struggled to take wickets and it's going to be hard (for us).
"It's important that we stick to our plan. Obviously there are a couple of good spinners with Ish and myself. Hopefully we can take some wickets and put a bit of pressure back on them."
Craig said he benefitted from touring England with the New Zealand 'A' team after the West Indies tour.
"I am just happy to get a run and whatever way I can contribute to the team it will be great. It was another experience going to England with the 'A' team and bowling over there and getting accustomed to the wickets out there," said Craig, who modelled his bowling on now-retired Graeme Swann.
Craig said it will be good to bowl with Sodhi.
"Sodhi is a very talented leg-spinner and he has got all the tools. He is a very exciting prospect," said Craig.
The remaining two Test will be played in Dubai (November 17-21) and Sharjah (November 26-30). The Tests will be followed by two Twenty20s and five one-day internationals.