New Zealand vs Pakistan, First Test: A Perfect Advertisement For Test Cricket

So ultimately it was agony for Pakistan and ecstasy for New Zealand. But what a match the two teams produced. It was the perfect advertisement for Test cricket at a time when the survival of the sport’s traditional format is under scrutiny. But more games like the one that concluded in Abu Dhabi on Monday and there will be no more discussions along these lines. New Zealand winning by the narrowest margin in their Test history, Pakistan losing by the narrowest margin in their Test history and the match being punctuated by frequent twists and turns. What more can the genuine cricket lover ask for?

Full marks are due to Kane Williamson and his lads. To get the better of Pakistan in what is increasingly becoming their fortress is a tremendous achievement. They accomplished what even Australia could not do last month. It is never easy to come back after being bowled out for 153 in the first innings or to defend a target of 175. But that’s what New Zealand showing remarkable powers of resilience accomplished.

The batting as totals of 153 and 249 will indicate was below par though crucial knocks were played at various stages by Williamson, Henry Nicholls and BJ Watling. But it was the bowling that ultimately tilted the scales in New Zealand’s favour and none did more in this department than the debutant Ajaz Patel. The 30-year-old Indian born left arm spinner displayed remarkable control over line and length even while making the ball do something off the pitch and in the air and was rightly rewarded with a five-wicket haul in the second innings and the man of the match award. The New Zealand bowling for long dependent on the pace combo of Tim Southee and Trent Boult wears a balanced look with the emergence of leg spinner Ish Sodhi and now Patel.

It must be galling for Pakistan to accept defeat in a match they dominated for so long particularly in what is now their own backyard and where they have a formidable record but in a way they have only themselves to blame for losing the grip after being well in control of proceedings at 130 for three in pursuit of a target of 176. But they succumbed to the relentless pressure applied by the Kiwis. However their players did contribute to all the excitement with Hasan Ali and Yasir Shah with the ball and Babar Azam and Azhar Ali with the bat making sterling contributions. Overall what this exciting game has done is to whet the appetite of the true cricket follower who cannot wait for the second Test to start at Dubai on Saturday.

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