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Pakistan vs New Zealand, 1st Test – Who Said What

Sarfraz was visibly disappointed after the shocking loss.

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New Zealand spinner Ajaz Patel
New Zealand spinner Ajaz Patel. (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI / AFP)

New Zealand have stunningly defended 175 in the first Test of the three-match series in Abu Dhabi. They put a huge pressure on Pakistan who brought their unpredictable game once again to the fore to collapse from being comfortable at 147/4 to 171 all out. Ajaz Patel was the man of the moment for the Kiwis who ended the game with seven wickets out of which five were scalped in the second innings.

It went down the wire in the end as Mohammad Abbas fought it out bravely to support Azhar Ali for close to 10 overs. But one delivery which pitched on leg-stump and turned square to pin Azhar in front of the stumps and script a sensational turnaround when it was least expected of them when the day’s play started.

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After resuming at 37/0, all the talk was about how early the game will end. But three wickets fell in the space of eight deliveries as they were reduced to 48/3 and made the game interesting. Ish Sodhi took a couple of wickets while Ajaz picked Imam-ul-Haq. However, the duo of Asad Shafiq and Azhar Ali added 82 runs for the fourth wicket only for the former to be sent back by Neil Wagner at the stroke of lunch.

Sensational collapse

The game was expected to end in the second session with Pakistan needing only 46 runs for the victory. It ended as expected but the result went the other way. Babar Azam was run-out in an ugly mix-up with Azhar with 29 runs needed to win and this is where the game turned dramatically. Sarfraz Ahmed’s poor form continued as New Zealand got his wicket with a smart review and then the tail-enders exploded with a poor shot selection.

Bilal Asif and Hasan Ali went for the glory shot unnecessarily while Yasir Shah got a good nut from Wagner. Abbas though showed heart to stay in the middle but Azhar went into the defensive mode and finally Ajaz breached his defence to seal a memorable win for his team.

Man of the Match, Ajaz Patel said:

For me my gameplan was pretty simple. Obviously the scoreboard didn’t look too simple but we just kept plugging away. We as a unit believed that we could do something special and it all went our way.

A lot of credit goes to the environment we have; it is a very relaxed environment we have and we look to keep things nice and simple. In terms of pressure on my debut, I have put in a lot of hard work and I felt like I was ready and just left the rest to the Almighty.

I only looked to hit my areas and make use of that wicket because it is not everyday that we get pitches like these. It is a great feeling to pull off such wins in the final innings for your country; just a great dream come true.

Pakistan have many good players of spin and they kept testing us. At any point, the game could have gone either way, but we just kept sticking in.

New Zealand captain, Kane Williamson said:

A superb fighting effort. The surface wasn’t the easiest, ir required a real scrappy performance and we saw it from both sies right throughout the match. The pitch offered good turn on day one and all the spinners did a fantastic job.

A great advertisement for Test cricket, it went on only for three days but went all the way to the wire. We’ll sit down and review our performance, we need to go back and work on areas. But then it is a fantastic game to be a part of and nice to be on the winning side.

Pakistan are a superb team and it was a great spectacle for all those out there watching. The attitude throughout the game was outstanding and the guys stayed in the contest for a long period. We saw through the game that wickets fell in clumbs and that was reflective of the way the game ended.

Those two bowlers [Ajaz and Wagner] were fantastic, they just kept bowling for 20 overs or something. It is nice to get these performances in and feels very rewarding. There are so many small margins whether you have a win or a loss and we need to look at them, which is something you don’t do when you are on the right side. But this fighting spirit is what we would want to hold on to and take it through the rest of the series.

Pakistan captain, Sarfraz Ahmed said:

Obviously it is disappointing. The start today wasn’t good, but the way Azhar and Asad played, we should have finished it off. The collapse after that was very disappointing for the team.

We obviously need to give credit to Ajaz here, he bowled superbly. The pitch has changed and he bowled well. Our batsmen should have handled it better, given ourselves a bit of time, but we just didn’t.

The batsmen should have scored the runs itself in the first place, but some of the shots played by some of them in the tail were quite disappointing. We had opportunities right through the game, first to score big runs after getting them out for 153 in the first innings and then to finish off the game now; the fact that we couldn’t do it is very disappointing.

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