By Ayyaz Malik
The ‘steam train’ that is Pakistan, stream rolled another opponent, this time it was New Zealand on the receiving end. The 1992 world champions were again very impressive as the Asian side’s bowlers and batsmen contributed in what turned out to be a big win in the end.
On the back of a first series win over the Australian’s in the last series, Pakistan played New Zealand with confidence evidently high after the series win of a few weeks ago. The Kiwis who boast of a batting line up of Brendan McCullum, Tom Latham, Ross Taylor and wicket keeper BJ Watling, would put a better performance than what Australia did.
Pakistan batted first, as is the way with the Pakistani’s these days. Pakistan couldn’t have got to a better start, Pakistan’s openers really putting New Zealand’s bowlers to the sword. The opening pair of Mohammed Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzhad, potentially took the game from New Zealand with an impressive opening stand 178.
New Zealand didn’t look like they were going to take a wicket any time soon as the Kiwis toiled, even former wicket keeper Brendan McCullum bowled a few overs. It was over real surprise almost when the first wicket stand was broken with the score on 178. Mohammed Hafeez was the first wicket to fall, the veteran all-rounder falling just on what would have been a very well deserved 100, Hafeez was caught and bowled for 96.
The Kiwis must have thought this would ‘open up the flood gates’ sadly though for New Zealand a second wicket stand of 169, only strengthened Pakistan’s position. A third wicket fell soon after the second wicket fell- but for New Zealand it was becoming a case of damaged limitation. If two century partnerships weren’t enough, Pakistan put on another century stand- this time it was for 187. Veterans Misbah Ul-Haq and Younus Khan both hit unbeaten centuries. Ahmed Shehzhad’s quite brilliant 176 also deserve a mention.
Pakistan spared New Zealand more misery, declared on 566-3. New Zealand got their innings off to a bad start. Three wickets were down before the 50 was up. Despite a century for Tom Latham, only Corey Anderson and Ish Sodhi scored any kind of runs.
With a batting line up of the quality of New Zealand’s, to be all out for 262 is very disappointing. Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor and Jimmy Neesham – between them scored some 14 runs between them. For players of that quality those stats make depressing reading.
Pakistan with a 304 lead after the first innings looked to press their advantage home- and they duly did. The Pakistani’s somewhat spared New Zealand’s bowlers this time, Pakistan declared on 175-2- looking to force a victory. Mohammed Hafeez did manage to score a 100 in that time which came off only 130 balls.
Chasing a mammoth 479 to win, New Zealand would have been no doubt first and foremost looking to save the game. To compound a disappointing game for Brendan McCullum’s high standards, the skipper was out for 39 in the second innings, Yasir Shah having the New Zealand skipper trapped lbw.
McCullum’s opening partner Latham was first out with the score on 57, falling 4 runs before the fall of the second wicket. In comparison to the first innings, New Zealand was doing comparatively worse it could be argued- as seven wickets had fallen before 150 were on the board for New Zealand.
Jimmy Neesham, Corey Anderson, BJ Watling and kane Williamson , to name some New Zealand batsmen – were all back in the pavilion. If New Zealand were to have any chance of saving this game, ideally they needed someone with the ‘technical ability’ of Kane Williamson.
With the score at 138-8, the Pakistani’s must have sensed that a victory was almost imminent- but ironically New Zealand’s low order showed the top- order how it’s done. A battling 9 wicket stand of 39, halted what many could argue was ‘the inevitable’ . When Mark Craig was bowled by Yasir Shah for 28, Pakistan must have thought finally the victory was theirs.
What was panning out to be a ‘great escape’ seemed more possible as Ish Sodhi who scored a reputable 25 in the first innings, scored a fifty in this innings. Accompanied by number 11 Trent Boult who scored 19, the last wicket pair put on a stubborn last wicket stand of 50 . This Kiwi pair looked to do the near impossible and save a match that they have been for long periods out played in.
Sadly though for New Zealand fans, a fairytale ending to this match wasn’t on the cards. Imran khan finally ending the match by trapping Ish Sodhi for a battling 63. New Zealand will be hoping to bounce back in the next test which starts on Monday 17th November.