Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Pakistan have taken a 1-0 lead in the three-Test series after demolishing New Zealand by 248 runs on the fifth day of the first Test in Abu Dhabi.
Starting out the day on 174/8, New Zealand’s spin duo of Ish Sodhi and Mark Craig only added three runs to their 36-run partnership before Craig was clean bowled by Yasir Shah for 28.
Sodhi and Trent Boult kept Pakistan at bay for a while with a 54-run partnership, during which Sodhi brought up his half-century, before he was given out lbw off the bowling of Imran Khan.
Sodhi reviewed the decision immediately, but replays showed that the ball was pitching in line and going on to clip leg stump. This led to the third umpire upholding the original decision.
Sodhi’s career-best knock of 63 came off 102 balls and included seven boundaries and a six.
Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Shah was the pick of the bowlers with three wickets, while Khan, Rahat Ali and Zulfiqar Babar snapped up two wickets apiece and Mohammad Hafeez chipped in with one as New Zealand were bowled out for 231.
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum was disappointed with his team’s performance, and said: “Obviously we were clearly second in this Test match. Congratulations to Misbah and his team. They were dominant in this Test match and we have a fight on our hands in the next two games. We’ve got to make sure we keep improving. Spin is obviously a threat but so is reverse swing. It’s a Test match we will take a lot of learning from, but we were clearly second best.
“For a New Zealand team to come out here, it’s very difficult, mostly starting your innings [against spin] with those men around the bat. The partnerships at the end of our innings gives us confidence for the rest of the Test match. I thought we bowled pretty well. Conditions were much slower in the first two days and it got quicker as it went on. It would be nice if we could win the toss, bat first, and put some scoreboard pressure on Pakistan, but at the moment, hats off to Pakistan, they played the perfect Test.”
Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq was pleased to have taken a 1-0 lead in the series, and said: “It’s a great feeling to be part of the winning team. It’s a young team, nobody expected us to perform like this. I’m really thankful to all the people who supported me on and off the cricket field. The important thing is always never lose hope, especially as an individual. I always believed in myself, always believed if I work hard, it’s definitely going to pay off. Sometimes you have to be patient.
“It was an absolute disaster for me, I didn’t get any runs in Sri Lanka and in the one-day series against Australia, but I kept calm through that. You just needed one person to stand up and give a good performance, I’ve already mentioned that partnership between Younis and Azhar Ali in the first Test against Australia. That was a key moment for us. And the way the youngsters have bowled, everyone has the belief that we can do it. I don’t want to give up our good work because it can change very quickly, and we have to focus on the basics and keep doing them right.”
Ali was named Man of the Match, and said: “It’s my first man of the match. I’m very happy. Waqar’s coaching and Mushtaq’s support are helping me a lot. They gave me a lot of plans. Mainly it was to bowl a lot of dot balls and bowl wicket-to-wicket. I’ve worked very hard with the coaching staff and I want to keep performing like this in the future.”