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'No need to fear New Zealand bowlers' - Rizwan keen on aggressive display in first Test
Pakistan News

'No need to fear New Zealand bowlers' - Rizwan keen on aggressive display in first Test

Mohammad Rizwan has rejected any signs of nerves in the Pakistan camp regarding the likelihood of a green pitch in the first Test against New Zealand and has vowed to play "aggressive cricket".

Pakistan faced a series whitewash the last time they played Test cricket in New Zealand with their batsmen breaching the 200-run mark only twice in four attempts.

The tourists now enter the two-match Test series having lost the T20I contests 2-1 and without the services of regular skipper Babar Azam.

Despite the setbacks and the uphill battle of prevailing over a strong New Zealand unit in their own backyard, Pakistan's stand-in captain Rizwan offered words of resolve and confidence.

"There is no need to fear New Zealand bowlers since our batsmen have the experience of playing on some green pitches back home. You get similar wickets to that are present in New Zealand at grounds like Abbottabad, Peshawar, Rawalpindi and Sialkot," he told reporters in a virtual press conference.

"I want to assure fans that we will be giving our level best and will not let pressure mount on us by applying an aggressive strategy to put the opposition on the back foot. This is our primary aim and my style of play and hopefully, we will succeed," he added.

Pakistan's bowling attack seems vastly inexperienced in comparison to their counterparts with the trio of Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Neil Wagner forming a formidable pace line-up for the hosts.

But Rizwan felt his bowlers had the talent to match or even surpass the skill of the opposition provided the presumably favourable conditions for them.

"We need to go out and perform to the best of our abilities and if New Zealand boast an experienced world-class seam-bowling attack like Boult, Southee and Wagner, our bowlers also have the firepower to challenge their batsmen.

"Abbas and Shaheen have proved their mettle while Naseem is a rapidly improving speedster. Yasir Shah is in the team and we have Faheem Ashraf and Sohail Khan as well in the squad," he claimed.

Although the T20Is did not pan out as planned for Pakistan, Rizwan had a moment to savour when he conjured a masterful knock to guide his team to victory in the third game of the series.

Rizwan's brilliant 89 quelled doubts over his ability to adapt to the shortest format and provided him confidence ahead of the Test series. Additionally, he was Pakistan's player of the series during the Test encounters in the England tour earlier this year.

"It feels very good to win a game for Pakistan. I was feeling positive about my batting throughout the T20I series but could not perform up to the expectations in the first two matches," he admitted.

"Nevertheless, the win has given us a huge boost before the Test series and especially for me personally, it is a great honour to lead Pakistan."

Rizwan did not deny the injury-enforced absence of Babar Azam was a major blow to Pakistan's preparations given his status as the team's premier all-format batsman.

The 28-year-old wicketkeeper conceded the glaring hole in Pakistan's batting order would be tough to plug and emphasised on Babar's importance to the team.

"It is very difficult to find a replacement for someone like Babar, who is still helping the players despite his injury by coming to the training sessions and giving us advice. He is continuing to give us tips and encouraging us, which goes to show the passion he has for the team," he noticed.