LAHORE: Pakistan ended their four-match losing streak at home after brave and gutsy half-centuries by Imam-ul-Haq, Saud Shakeel and Sarfraz Ahmed denied New Zealand a chance to go 1-0 up in the two-Test series at the National Bank Cricket Arena on Friday.

Resuming the fifth and last day at 77 for two and still needing 97 runs to make New Zealand bat again, Pakistan looked down and out when they slipped to 206 for seven (32 runs ahead) with 49 overs still remaining in the match.

However, the eighth and ninth wicket partnerships between Saud Shakeel and Mohammad Wasim Junior, and Saud and Mir Hamza, respectively helped Pakistan to declare their second innings at 311 for eight. That set New Zealand a daunting but an achievable 138 runs target in 15 overs, and when both the teams shook hands due to a fading light, the visitors were 61 for one in 7.3 overs.

New Zealand, who had last won a Test in Pakistan in Lahore in 1996, were on course to break the 26-year win drought when they left Saud Shakeel to battle out the remaining 49 overs in the day with the tail-enders.

Saud not only conjured up his fifth half-century in fourth Test, he added 75 runs for the eighth wicket from 111 balls (71 minutes) with Mohammad Wasim Junior, while he put on 34 runs from 82 balls (50 minutes) for the unbroken ninth wicket with Mir Hamza.

Wasim showed his batting exploits and skills at probably the best time in his early days as an international cricketer when he not only survived 57 balls but also scored 43 runs with five fours and a six. Mir Hamza kept New Zealand bowlers at bay for 34 balls while scoring three not out.

Earlier, Pakistan starting the day at 77 for two, plunged into a crisis when nightwatchman Noman Ali (four) and captain Babar Azam (14) returned to the dressing room in a space of 34 balls to leave the home side in a bother at 100 for four and still needing 74 runs to make New Zealand bat again. Both the batters were adjudged leg before off Michael Bracewell and Ish Sodhi, respectively.

At that stage, Imam and Sarfaraz got together in a rescue act and added 85 runs for the fifth wicket before crisis struck Pakistan again.

Sarfaraz, immediately after reaching his second half-century of the match, paid the price for attempting a shot to a wide Sodhi delivery and was caught at the wicket, first innings centurion Salman Ali Agha missed a wrong-un from Sodhi and was bowled before Imam’s fighting knock ended when he was deceived by Sodhi to be smartly stumped by Tom Blundell.

Sarfaraz’s 53 came off 76 balls and included seven fours, while Imam was unlucky to miss his fourth Test century when he was dismissed for 96. His 206-ball knock was laced with 10 fours and a six.

New Zealand was brilliant in the field on the fifth day. Ish Sodhi recorded his maiden five-fer while finishing with career-best figures of 36.5-11-86-6, while wicketkeeper Tom Blundell accounted for three Pakistan batters in the second innings to finish with seven dismissals in the match.

The second Test will commence at the National Bank Cricket Arena on Monday, 2 January.

Scores in brief: Pakistan (1st innings) 438, 130.5 overs (Babar Azam 161, Salman Ali Agha 103, Sarfaraz Ahmed 86, Imam-ul-Haq 24, Saud Shakeel 22; Tim Southee 3-69, Michael Bracewell 2-72, Ish Sodhi 2-87, Ajaz Patel 2-112) and 311-8d (Imam-ul-Haq 96, Saud Shakeel 55 not out, Sarfaraz Ahmed 53, Mohammad Wasim 43; Ish Sodhi 6-86, Michael Bracewell 2-82).

New Zealand (1st innings) 612-9d, 194.5 overs (Kane Williamson 200 not out, Tom Latham 113, Devon Conway 92, Ish Sodhi 65; Abrar Ahmed 5-205, Noman Ali 3-185) and 61-1 (Tom Latham 35 not out). Player of the match was Kane Williamson (New Zealand).

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022


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