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Pakistans Waqar Younis preparing for New Zealand swan song


HAMILTON, New Zealand, March 26 (AFP) - Pakistan paceman Waqar Younis is promising a farewell demolition job on New Zealand for the third and final cricket Test.

Younis will play probably his last match on New Zealand soil as he leads Pakistan's bowling attack with the tourists 1-0 up in the series.

The 29-year-old still vividly remembers his last Test in Hamilton in 1993 when he and Wasim Akram destroyed New Zealand's second innings for 93, chasing just 127 to win.

Younis ended the match with nine wickets after taking five for 22 in the second innings.

Both teams trained at the park Sunday and Younis, on his fourth tour of New Zealand, was heartened by what he saw in the pitch.

"Good memories, I had a great match here. It was a good pitch then and it looks similar now," he said.

"I don't know how our batsmen are feeling at the moment but I'm feeling great about it.

"Seeing a pitch like this is always encouraging for a fast bowler, and hopefully they're not going to cut too much grass off."

Younis, who has 318 wickets from 70 tests, said the likely bowler-friendly pitch was a welcome relief after the dead portable surfaces in Auckland and Christchurch.

As the senior pace bowler in the absence of the injured Akram, Younis took match figures of two for 75 in Auckland and three for 132 in Chistchurch.

"I've been a bit unlucky, dropped catches and some decisions here and there," he said.

"It's been frustrating, I've taken five wickets so far and it should have been more. Sometimes you're on top of your game and not getting too many wickets."

While the pitch should favour the quicker bowlers it shouldn't be unplayable.

Groundsman Doug Strachan produced excellent pitches for the Tests against the West Indies and Australia last season, and he said the recent fine weather meant it would be a similar surface.

It should be enough to encourage New Zealand to play four pace bowlers, with allrounder Jacob Oram looking likely to make his Test debut alongside the pace attack of Daryl Tuffey, Chris Martin and recalled James Franklin.

The 20-year-old was named to replace the injured Chris Drum, while off-spinner Grant Bradburn gained a reprieve when leg-spinner Brooke Walker injured a shoulder while bowling Sunday.

Bradburn rarely looked a wicket-taking threat on an unhelpful pitch in Christchurch, taking two for 124 off 42 overs, and he may carry the drinks on his home ground.

It will mean New Zealand will enter a Test without a specialist spinner for the first time in 44 Tests and five years.

The last time was before injured left-armer Daniel Vettori's career began, in 1996 against the West Indies in Bridgetown when Danny Morrison, Robert Kennedy, Gavin Larsen and Justin Vaughan made up the attack.

Pakistan may be tempted to play four pace bowlers as well, but the average showing of recalled paceman Mohammad Akram in the drawn match against Wellington at the weekend might suggest otherwise.

They seem likely to keep an unchanged side, with Fazle Akbar as the third pace bowler.

Pakistan batted out the final day of their three-dayer against Wellington on Saturday, with an 82 by Faisal Iqbal helping them to 340 for seven after trailing by 168 on the first innings.

The draw in the second Test in Christchurch was the first in 12 matches. Pakistan had won nine of the previous 11 Tests against New Zealand.

Likely teams:

New Zealand: Stephen Fleming (captain), Mark Richardson, Matthew Bell, Mathew Sinclair, Nathan Astle, Craig McMillan, Adam Parore, Jacob Oram, James Franklin, Daryl Tuffey, Chris Martin.

Pakistan: Moin Khan (captain), Imran Farhat, Ijaz Ahmed, Faisal Iqbal, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Yousuf Youhana, Younis Khan, Saqlain Mushtaq, Waqar Younis, Fazle Akbar, Mohammad Sami.

Umpires: Daryl Harper (Aus), Steve Dunne (Nzl).




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