Third Successive Test Win
It seems Pakistan can do no wrong these days, as they wrap up their third successive Test win and, much like the previous two, this one was massive. Over the course of five days, Pakistan had utterly and completely dominated the match, right from the first ball of the game to the last one.
Hot off the heels of their 2-0 series win against Australia, Pakistan carried forward the momentum gained from that series into this one, which began less than a week after the last one ended. Winning the toss once again and batting first, Pakistan piled up 269-2 on day 1, thanks largely to an Ahmad Shehzad century and 96 by Mohammad Hafeez as they put up Pakistan’s highest opening partnership against New Zealand in Test cricket.
Day 2 proceeded in a similar manner, with Pakistan continuing where they left off as Younis Khan and Misbah ul Haq scored centuries of their own to take Pakistan to 566-3 declared, their fifth successive innings where they declared. Both Younis and Misbah continued their good form from the previous series, against Australia, where they had scored three and two centuries respectively in four and three innings. In all the hubbub surrounding the three centuries, Azhar Ali’s 87 were largely overlooked.
Between Shehzad’s century and the two from the old guard, Shehzad was injured as he was struck on the head by a Corey Anderson bouncer he was trying to pull, causing him a minor fracture of the skull and taking him out of action for the remainder of the series.
New Zealand’s first innings could not have gone more differently from Pakistan’s. Tom Latham scored a century but the rest of the batting lineup offered little resistance against Rahat Ali and Zulfiqar Babar as they were bundled out 304 runs short of Pakistan’s total. No batsman apart from Latham passed 50. Rahat Ali, in what has been the finest spell of his short career, picked up four wickets for a miserly 22 runs in 17 overs as he moved both the old and new ball around prodigiously.
Choosing not to enforce the follow on, Pakistan went in to bat late on day 3. With Ahmad Shehzad absent on account of his head injury, Mohammad Hafeez was accompanied to the crease by Azhar Ali who had played the role of makeshift opener, against Australia, only recently in Dubai when Hafeez himself was injured. The two did played their part to perfection as they put up a quick 69 run opening stand before Ish Sodhi had his first taste of success in the match at his expense. Younis Khan, the man who has not put a foot wrong since three low scoring innings against Sri Lanka in August, scored less than 30 for the first time in six innings as he too fell victim to Sodhi.
Mohammad Hafeez, who had missed out on three figures by just four runs in the first innings, made amends for that as he drove and cut his way to a 130 ball hundred, his first in over two years. Pakistan declared their second innings for 175, the sixth lowest score in Pakistan’s cricketing history at which they have declared.
Faced with a monumental target of 480, New Zealand decided that a good offense was the best defense as they went for their strokes from the first ball, but like all good things it came to an end as Pakistan’s bowlers triggered another collapse that saw New Zealand lose eight wickets for 117 runs. The honors were shared equally between Pakistan’s bowlers as Rahat Ali, Yasir Shah and Zulfiqar Babar picked up two wickets apiece, all three taking their two wickets in quick succession.
New Zealand were two wickets away from a certain and massive defeat near the end of day four but Pakistan’s decision not to take an extra 30 minutes to try and dislodge the last two wickets meant that the game would have a fifth day after all.
Day 5 was going to be a special one for Pakistan and for the skipper Misbah-ul-Haq where a win would take him to the top of the table as the most successful Pakistani Test captain in terms of Tests won, ahead of Javed Miandad and Imran Khan.
It didn’t take long for Yasir Shah to remove Craig as New Zealand were nine down. It was the last pair which frustrated Pakistan with a 54 run partnership as Ish Sodi made 63 before he was finally removed by Imran Khan. Pakistan completed a comprehensive 248 run win and as a result took a 1-0 lead in the 3 match series. Rahat Ali was acknowledged for his superb bowling as he won the Man of the Match award with match figures of 6-70.
The second Test Match starts on the 17th of November 2014 in Dubai.