Expected Pakistan to do the unexpected. After having been behind New Zealand throughout the series
Expected Pakistan to do the unexpected. After having been behind New Zealand throughout the series, Pakistan fought back incredibly well on the final day of the Test. Chasing 369 to win, an improbable victory seemed a thin possibility, considering the position they had played themselves into. At 159 for 1, there was a mathematical chance of them reaching the target in case they played ODI-style. It had been done in the past, so such a result wouldn't have been out of the blue. But, what definitely was, was the manner in which Pakistan capitulated to hand the Kiwis victory on a platter. Pakistan have featured in numerous batting collapses over the years, but this was surreal by their standards as well.
The numbers tell the rather unbelievable story of Pakistan's batting collapse. From 159 for 1 in the 68th over, they crumbled to 230 all-out in the 93th over. This basically means they lost their last nine wickets for the mere addition of 71 runs, to allow the Kiwis to complete a sensational comeback. A more damning stat was the crumbling of the lower order. From 218 for 5, they collapsed to 230 all out in a matter of minutes. The last four wickets fell for the addition of just one run as the score crawled from 229 to 230, while the last three wickets fell even as the score, in terms or runs, stayed constant. Nothing more really needs to be said about the way things panned out.
Pakistan should be absolutely gutted with the manner in which they gifted the game away. It was a performance of two halves -- one in which the openers batted with such rare resilience that New Zealand would have been wondering whether they had indeed been playing this team all this time. The other however was such a shambolic effort that even a minnow side would have been embarrassed. The Pakistani middle and lower order made a mockery of the great work done by openers Sami Aslam and stand-in skipper Azhar Ali. A lot was being expected of Younis Khan, but he failed once again, and his dismissal set panic in the Pakistani dressing room.
While Pakistan should be peeved with their effort, New Zealand should be equally elated. Not in their wildest dream would they have expected to win the Test after the Pakistani openers had consumed up most of the overs in an absorbing opening stand. But, to their credit, they gleefully accepted the offerings presented by the Pakistani batsmen. It was the perfect team effort with the ball as Tim Southee, Mitchell Santner and Neil Wagner delivered telling blows. While Southee dismissed Aslam and Younis, Santner cleaned up Ali and Babar Azam. Wagner then packed up the tail in no time with three rapid wickets to finish off things. It was a spectacular finish to a bizarre contest.
While the bowling undoubtedly took the cake, one of the biggest gains for the hosts from the win was the return to form of Ross Taylor. Before the Test, the focus was on his eyesight and his impending surgery, but he came up with a hard-fought ton which set up New Zealand for a big total in the second innings. Opener Jeet Raval continued his good form with a half-century in the first innings while BJ Watling made a crucial unbeaten 49 under tense circumstances. The other opener, Tom Latham, was also among the runs with 80 in the second innings. They were impressive overall, but it must be said it was a Test Pakistan lost more than New Zealand won.