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Black Caps continue to progress

04/12/2014

New Zealand’s much maligned cricket team, colloquially known as the Black Caps, continue to take giant steps forward in the test game.

New Zealand’s victory over Pakistan in Sharjah inside four days was understandably overshadowed by the tragic death of Phil Hughes during the week with skipper Brendon McCullum seemingly unable to fully revel in his side’s victory.

In spite of the team’s slightly melancholic response to victory, it is important for long suffering fans to reflect on the significance of this victory. While, having lost the first test decisively New Zealand were unable to claim a treasured overseas series victory, the team stuck with Pakistan in the second test and after losing the first day rebounded to secure a comprehensive victory.

A drawn test series one all may seem innocuous but this is the same Pakistan team which wiped the floor with Australia now sitting at number two on the ICC test match rankings.

This was a drawn series against a team who have been very difficult to play in their adopted home of the United Arab Emirates in recent years.

England were beaten 3 nil in 2012 (a certain off spinner with an action which is just not cricket taking plenty of wickets) while South Africa and Sri Lanka could also only manage drawn series against the Pakistanis.

A common refrain from the Pakistani commentators was in commending the New Zealanders for being quick learners, it is the ability to respond to adversity and learn that demonstrates character and this side has shown it has it.

Tom Latham’s hundred in the losing cause of the first test coupled with Sodhi’s 63 gave positives from that first encounter.

After day one of this test match Pakistan were sitting pretty at 281/3. It didn’t look good but I mentioned to a couple of people if New Zealand could dismiss Pakistan for 400 then they would be in with a chance.

What followed certainly exceeded my most optimistic expectations as the pugnacious kiwi skipper and death by a thousand cuts cool Kane Williamson dismantled the Pakistani attack while, Taylor, Anderson, Southee and Craig rubbed a veritable salt mine into a gaping pus filled wound.

New Zealand had finished with 690 after a misjudged Ish Sodhi sweep gave Younus Khan an easy catch.

This was New Zealand’s highest ever test score but what is really telling is that three of the top ten scores by New Zealand have occurred in the last 12 months.

Sri Lanka are next on the calendar for the team before the pure form of the game gives way to a quadrennial carnival of pyjama cricket (this time to be hosted on our shores).

A comprehensive home victory over the Sri Lankans would be a great way to conclude the abbreviated test cricket season.

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