Abu Dhabi: New Zealand clinched their first away-series victory against Pakistan since 1969 with an authoritative 123-run win at the Shaikh Zayed Stadium on Friday.
The hosts’ batsmen showed no spine and were bundled out for 156 in 56.1 overs after the Black Caps posted an improbable target of 280 for the win with more than a session remaining.
Pakistan were on the mat straight away as they lost wickets in a heap and were reduced to 55-5 by lunch. And with 58 overs left to survive in the day, a defeat was on the cards.
“It was a fantastic series to be a part of,” said a beaming New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson. “Obviously to go 1-1 and then have a deciding match that goes five days, with both teams in with a chance of a result on the last day, that proves it was a special series.
“Certainly, from our prospective to have won the series against a side like Pakistan who are formidable on these conditions is quite special.”
Tim Southee dealt a decisive blow in the first over of the Pakistan innings by getting one through the defences of the retiring Mohammad Hafeez.
Then, Colin de Grandhomme got the centurion from the first innings, Azhar Ali, caught behind for five and off-spinner William Somerville then sent Haris Sohail and Asad Shafiq packing of successive deliveries. Ajaz Patel joined the party by removing Imam-ul-Haq on the stroke of lunch and Pakistan’s fate then hung on the shoulders of Babar Azam and skipper Sarfraz Ahmad.
Babar top scored with 51 but he was not really in control as he had got four lives during that knock. Sarfraz tried to counter attack and scored 28 and was involved in a 43-run partnership for the sixth wicket with Babar before Somerville bowled him. The tail again showed very little interest in wagging and was in and out in a flash.
Both spinners Somerville and Patel finished with three wickets each. Southee also had three against his name.
Williamson, who had rated his team as an inexperienced side at the start of the series, hailed his bowlers, especially the spinners.
“I said inexperienced in terms of international exposure but they have played domestic cricket and bowled a lot of overs,” he said. “Those two spinners making their debut on this tour — to perform the way they did was special. We know the surface offers to slower bowlers but to get that reward you need to bowl a lot of overs. Only then can you put batsmen under pressure from a team like Pakistan. They stepped up and showed the class they have and that made such an impact in the series.”
Williamson was seen taking a group picture with the entire Abu Dhabi ground staff following the triumph.
Earlier, Williamson resuming on his overnight score of 139 couldn’t contribute anything further — bowled off the first ball of the final day from Hassan Ali.
At the other end, however, Henry Nicholls notched up his third Test century, getting there in the third over of the day. He was unbeaten on 126 when the Kiwis decided to declare the innings at 353-7 less than an hour later.
Williamson’s wicket brought in De Grandhomme and the all-rounder hammered a quick-fire 26 off 19 balls before he was caught in the deep by Bilal Asif off leg-spinner Yasir Shah.
However, by then Nicholls and De Grandhomme had given the necessary impetus to the innings — 62 coming from 6.3 overs. Yasir then bowled BJ Watling for duck next ball but his hat-trick was denied by Southee. The leg spinner finished the three-match series with 29 wickets — one short of Abdul Qadir’s record of 30 wickets set during the 1987-88 series against England. Yasir walked away with the Man of the Series award but also became the first bowler to claim most wickets in a losing series.
New Zealand 1st Innings 274 all out
Pakistan 1st Innings 348 all out
New Zealand 2nd Innings (overnight 272-4)
K Williamson lbw b Hassan 139
H Nicholls not out 126
C de Grandhomme c Bilal b Yasir
B Watling b Yasir Shah 0
TG Southee not out 15
Extras (b9, lb1, nb 1) 11
Total: 353/7d (113 Overs)
Fall of wickets: 1-1 (Raval), 2-24 (Latham), 3-37 (Somerville), 4-60 (Taylor), 5-272 (Williamson), 6-334 (De Grandhomme), 7-334 (Watling)
Bowling: Hasan 16-5-62-1, Afridi 20-5-85-2, Yasir 39-8-129-4, Bilal 36-6-62-0, Azhar 1-0-2-0, Hafeez 1-0-3-0
Pakistan 2nd Innings
I ul-Haq c Nicholls b Patel 22
M Hafeez b Southee 8
A Ali c Watling b De Grandhomme 5
H Sohail c Taylor b Somerville
c Watling b Somerville 0
B Azam c Southee b Patel
S Ahmad b Somerville 28
B Asif c Watling b Southee
Y Shah c Patel b Southee 4
Hasan Ali c Williamson b Patel 4
S Afridi not out 2
Extras (b4, lb6, nb1) 11
Total: 156 all out (56.1 Overs)
Fall of wickets: 1-19 (Hafeez), 2-32 (Azhar), 3-43 (Haris), 4-43 (Shafiq), 5-55 (Ul-Haq), 6-98 (Sarfraz), 7-131 (Bilal), 8-137 (Yasir), 9-150 (Babar), 10-156 (Hasan)
Bowling: Southee 12-3-42-3, Boult 6-4-7-0, De Grandhomme 4-1-3-1, Patel 14.1-4-42-3, Somerville 20-2-52-3