Four things we learned: How the Black Caps can bounce back to match Pakistan in decider

SKY SPORT

New Zealand's fightback fell well short in an innings defeat to Pakistan.

OPINION: A week ago New Zealand cricket fans were still kicking themselves for going to bed early, as the Black Caps basked in one of their best comeback test victories.

If a week is a long time in politics, it can be an eternity in a test cricket series.

Now New Zealand and Pakistan reconvene in Abu Dhabi on Monday (7pm NZT) for the series decider at 1-1 and the hosts in the box seat after a crushing innings victory inside four days in Dubai.

Such a sharp momentum swing, and the respective confidence levels of the two sides after New Zealand's stunning collapse for 90, will make Pakistan awfully tough to hold out.

Here's four things the Black Caps must address as they dust themselves off and chase a first away series win against Pakistan since 1969.

Four things we learned: How the Black Caps can bounce back to match Pakistan in decider
YASIR NISAR/PHOTOSPORTColin de Grandhomme's face says it all after his shot to Hasan Ali in the second innings.

Colin de Grandhomme's face says it all after his shot to Hasan Ali in the second innings.

CH-CH-CH CHANGES

There won't be kneejerk axings but the balance of the team needs a tweak and it means no place for Colin de Grandhomme.

It seems like pick on Colin week, given he bowled well on the first morning, but his batting confidence is so bereft on the UAE pitches he looks a walking wicket. Hasan Ali and Yasir Shah have his number and zeroed in on his defensive holes.

It leaves two options: bring in a batsman or an extra bowler at No 7, with the Black Caps badly missing allrounders Mitchell Santner and Todd Astle. Tom Blundell (test average 68) is the only backup and should get the gig, purely to bolster the middle order after three successive collapses.

Four bowlers and Kane Williamson will have to do the job. Of Trent Boult, Neil Wagner, Ajaz Patel and Ish Sodhi - who combined for 18 wickets in the first test - the latter looks most under threat. Williamson is sometimes reluctant to use his gifted legspinner and the Pakistan batsmen have gone after him, but Sodhi's presence in that winning team and crucial double blow in Abu Dhabi make a case for him to remain.

If not that leaves Will Somerville, Tim Southee or Matt Henry to come in. Offspinner Somerville would be a gamble on debut but one worth taking if the pitch is tailor-made for Shah's legspin, while senior man Southee is fresh and brings experience in the conditions.

Four things we learned: How the Black Caps can bounce back to match Pakistan in decider
YASIR NISAR/PHOTOSPORTPakistan's Yasir Shah snared 14 wickets for the match, more than any other bowler in a test against New Zealand.

Pakistan's Yasir Shah snared 14 wickets for the match, more than any other bowler in a test against New Zealand.

YES SIR, YASIR

The Black Caps' second innings, 312 all out in 112.3 overs, at least eased some mental scarring from a day previous as they plot a plan against Shah whose 14-184 was the best test match figures against New Zealand.

Ross Taylor danced down the pitch first ball and wasn't scared to use his feet, as was the nimble Henry Nicholls who was decisive playing forward or back. Tom Latham swept strongly and looked confident in his gameplan, rotating the strike as Shah appeared a mere mortal before his late second innings flurry.

In the first innings there was blind panic after Taylor and Nicholls each got gems second ball, Shah was on the button and there was no stopping him as the tail was exposed. It was the perfect storm and for the likes of Jeet Raval it will mean some more anxious moments.

Then there's Williamson who was not out in the first innings as the carnage unfolded, then got a ripper from Shah in the second. He got starts in all four innings to date and a big one is required from New Zealand's master batsman if they're to stand up to Shah and his mates.

Four things we learned: How the Black Caps can bounce back to match Pakistan in decider
YASIR NISAR/PHOTOSPORTRoss Taylor led the way in the second innings with a sound gameplan and confident mindset against the Pakistan bowlers.

Ross Taylor led the way in the second innings with a sound gameplan and confident mindset against the Pakistan bowlers.

SET THE PACE

The first two tests went to script: team who wins the toss bats first and wins the match.

Williamson is one from two calling against Sarfraz Ahmed this series and this coin flip will be as vital as ever with both sides wanting to bat first and set the pace with a series win beckoning.

That's been an issue for New Zealand who again showed they can fight back from adversity but aren't great frontrunners. Pakistan displayed the blueprint to win in the UAE: bat for two days then hope your spinners do the job on a helpful wearing pitch.

If Williamson calls correctly New Zealand will get the best of the batting conditions and need 400-plus. Easier said than done.

Four things we learned: How the Black Caps can bounce back to match Pakistan in decider
PHOTOSPORTRemember this? It was just over a week ago and New Zealand return to Sheikh Zayed Stadium for the test series decider.

FIELD OF DREAMS

The Black Caps gladly farewell Dubai and at least return to the ground where they made the dressing room heave after their stunning first test win.

Yes they were fortunate and relied on an awful Pakistan collapse and a superb debut from Patel. But a win's a win, and happy memories for them and, perhaps, some dark flashbacks for the hosts will help the Black Caps' cause.

Coach Gary Stead believes it will be the same pitch as Pakistan beat Australia by 373 runs in October, when seamer Mohammad Abbas took 10 for the match, Australian offspinner Nathan Lyon eight, and Shah just four wickets.

Patel will return with a swagger and so too Wagner whose support role was crucial in the first test and the bouncier pitch offers encouragement for his short-pitched barrage.

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