April 19, 2021, 1:37 pm
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New Zealand Win Tight Contest Despite Heroics of Fawad Alam

ICC Test Championship
New Zealand VS Pakistan Series
1st Test Played at Bay Oval, Mount
New Zealand 1st Innings 431 All Out in 155 Overs (Kane Williamson 129, BJ Watlling 73, Ross Taylor 70, Henry Nichols 56. Shaheen Shah Afridi 4/109, Yasir Shah 3/113) and 2nd Innings 180/5 Declared in 45.3 Overs (Tom Blundell 64, Tom Latham 53, Nasim Shah 3/65)
Pakistan 1st Innings 239 All Out in 102.2 Overs (Fahim Ashraf 91, Mohammad Rizwan 71, Abid Ali 25, Kayle Jamieson 3/ 35, Neil Wagner 2/ 50, Tim Southee 2/ 69, Trent Boult 2/71) and 2nd Innings 271 All Out in 123.3 Overs (Fawad Alam 129, Mohammad Rizwan 60, Azhar Ali 38, Tim Southee 2/33, Kyle Jamieson 2/35, Neil Wagner 2/55 and Trent Boult 2/75)
New Zealand Won The Test by 101 Runs
Player of The Match: Kane Williamson

Brave defying batting by Fawad Alam and excellent partnership of Fawad and Rizwan almost earned Pakistan a very honorable draw. But persist great bowling of arguably the best Kiiwi pace attack led New Zealand winning by 101 runs in the fading lights of the final session of day five. Winning this test New Zealand climbed to the top of ICC Test Ranking registering strong claim for playing the final of test championship. The day five started this morning Pakistan resumed their second innings at 71/3 still needing 302 for an improbable win or bat out the day. They lost only one wicket in the first session, none in the second session as Fawad and Rizwan 165 priceless runs created enabling situation for saving the test. Pakistani supporters were even dreaming for a historic win. Jamieson and Wagner (bowling with two broken toes) ended the resistance of Rizwan and Fawad. Pakistan innings was wrapped up for 271 with only few overs left in the match. Boxing day MCG test ended with a historic win for India day before, today cricket world witnessed a fascinating contest of bat and ball. These two tests evidenced why test cricket is adored and admired off all formats by cricket lovers. Pakistan might have lost the test but gained a lot in matters of earning great confidence. They did not die wondering. Went down fighting bravely. Defeated but not destroyed.

ICC recently announced best teams in all formats over the past decade. Only Kane Williams from New Zealand none else from New Zealand featured. Not one from Pakistan was there. People already raised question how Babar Azom could miss out? Why not Southee, Taylor could be included? After the fearsome pace attacks of West Indies and Australia in the past decades the present Kiwi Pace attack must be rated among the best. New Zealand has become unbeatable at home mainly from their excellent pace attack and batting of Williamson and Taylor.

Pakistan suffered from Corona Positive impacts and injury from the start of the tour Their captain and top batsman Babar Azam remained unavailable so far. Leading opening batsman Imamul Haque and Leg Spinner Shadab Khan also became unavailable for tests. Playing against New Zealand in New Zealand even with full strength team in recent days is a huge challenge. In that consideration Pakistan playing this test without some key players showed lot of character and determination.

Winning the toss and sensing early assistance on greenish wicket under cloud cover stand in Captain Rizwan elected to field. Quality new ball bowlers Shahin Afridi grabbing two early wickets created issues for New Zealand batting Abbas, Fahim and Yasir all bowling at right channels made run scoring extremely difficult. If few catches were not floored New Zealand could be bundled out around 300-350. But Champion Kiwi batsmen Williamson and Taylor applying them salvaged the Kiwi innings. Another quality century 129 by Kane Williamson and 71 by Taylor laid the match winning foundation for Kiwis. Later Nichols (56) and Watling (73) contributed in posting 431 for the first innings on a difficult wicket of inconsistent bounce. Shahin Afridi taking 4/109 and Yasir with 3/119 were the peak of the Pakistani attack.

Against the quality Kiwi bowling Pakistan top order melted. At one stage Pakistan was looking down and out at 6/80. Stand in captain Rizwan (71) and all-rounder Fahim (91) with a 107 runs 7th wicket partnership rescued the innings from total ruins. Pakistan avoided following on.

New Zealand batting second time scoring 180/5 in the second innings set a target of 373 for Pakistan achieving in a little over four session. Pakistan top order again failed. By stumps on fourth day at 71/3 Pakistan looked vulnerable for a huge loss early on day five on wearing wicket.

Contrary to some prediction Pakistan displayed excellent brand of quality cricket on day five. Though Azhar Ali left early Veteran Fawad Ahmed with his dogged defense and Rizwan showing great patience defied Kiwi attack for almost four hours in the 4th wicket partnership of 165. Southee, Boult, Wagner, Jamieson and Santer tried all tricks to dislodge them. At tea on the 5th afternoon there were talks of about a late Pakistan surge to win even. Fawad reached his second century in his career 102 to be exact before felling to Wagner. Rizwan scoring 60 fell to Jamieson. Unfortunately for Pakistan it became impossible for the tail to survive the last few overs of the test to earn the most deserving draw. Getting all out at 271 Pakistan lost by 101 runs. New Zealand with their top-quality pace attack needs only a quality spinner for winning test against all team in all conditions.

Winning the test New Zealand for the first time elevated to the top position of ICC Test Ranking.

Pakistan lost but earned lot of positives from the loss as well. Sometimes loss also glorifies a team. From the condition of the wicket on day five it appeared that Pakistan could have done better Batting first after winning the toss. Pakistan attack could much better exploit the condition on day five with wicket gripping, turning and bouncing.

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