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New Zealand prevail despite Fawad heroics

TAURANGA, NEW ZEALAND - DECEMBER 30: Neil Wagner of New Zealand celebrates his wicket of Fawad Alam of Pakistan during day five of the First Test match in the series between New Zealand and Pakistan at Bay Oval on December 30, 2020 in Tauranga, New Zealand.

NZ v PAK, 1st Test, day five

New Zealand clinched a 101-run win in Mount Maunganui over Pakistan to go 1-0 up in the series despite Fawad Alam’s resilient fightback.

SCORECARD

The hosts won 60 points in the ICC World Test Championship standings to keep their dream alive of making it to the final of the tournament. If they win the ongoing Test series against Pakistan, they will go to the top of the MRF Tyres ICC Test Team Rankings

After failing to dominate the first two sessions, New Zealand regrouped in the tea break to turn the match on its head in the final session. Fawad and Mohammad Rizwan had completed their personal milestones at the beginning of the third session with Rizwan getting his fourth consecutive Test fifty, while Fawad completing his second Test hundred, 11 years after he had scored a century on debut in 2009.

The duo continued cautiously for a while but Kyle Jamieson, who was celebrating his 26th birthday, finally managed to get a breakthrough, breaking the century-stand. He trapped Rizwan in front for a 191-ball 60, forcing the umpire to reverse his decision and taking a successful lbw review.

Fawad and Rizwan’s solid 165-run stand was a testament to their glorious fightback, which faltered soon after the partnership was broken.

Without his partner holding the other end, Fawad perished about three overs later to Neil Wagner when he nicked a short ball through to the keeper while attempting to pull towards fine leg. In at No.8, Yasir Shah barely lasted for two overs before becoming Jamieson’s second victim.

Faheem Ashraf tried his best to hold on but the visitors slipped further losing him just before the final drinks break. He was caught in the crease off a short ball, awkwardly edging one behind off Wagner for 19.

Pakistan’s last-wicket pair of Naseem Shah and Shaheen Afridi then took upon themselves to play the remaining overs and almost succeeded. But the New Zealand bowlers persistence finally paid off when Mitchell Santner caught Naseem off his own bowling as Pakistan were bowled out for 271.

Earlier in the day, the visitors began the final day on 71/3, trailing by 302, but in just the second over they lost Azhar Ali for 38 as he pushed at Trent Boult, clipping it to BJ Watling. 

Rizwan joined Fawad at the crease and the pair survived a couple of scares early on to move the tourists along nicely. Before lunch they brought up their 50-run partnership, as Pakistan headed into the interval on 137/4. 

The pair started swiftly in the afternoon session, with Fawad passing the fifty-mark in the first over and then hitting back-to-back boundaries off Santner in the following over.

The second session was even tougher for New Zealand as they looked to create chances but were kept away by the resilient Pakistan pair. Both Fawad and Rizwan did not take any unnecessary risks and displayed ample grit and determination to defy the hosts’ bowlers. They added 78 runs after lunch, taking their fifth-wicket partnership to 140*. 

The closest New Zealand came to creating a chance was when Jamieson had Rizwan edging one in the slip cordon. However, replays showed that it was a bump ball. With 158 more to win in the final session, Pakistan would have fancied their chances of saving the match but the hosts had other plans.

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