Pakistan 133 (Misbah 31, De Grandhomme 6-41, Southee 2-20) v New Zealand
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Colin de Grandhomme helped justify Kane Williamson’s decision to bowl first © Getty Images
All through a wretched India tour, Kane Williamson couldn’t win a toss. On the first day of New Zealand’s home summer, the second of the Christchurch Test, he had the rub of the green when Misbah-ul-Haq called wrong and elected to bowl on a green Hagley Oval surface. Colin de Grandhomme, on debut, responded by taking 6 for 41 to finish with the best figures on debut by a New Zealander. He was aided by superb slip catching from the other debutant Jeet Raval as Pakistan slipped and slid to 133 all out in 55.5 overs.
For the first hour, New Zealand’s new ball pair of Tim Southee and Trent Boult was erratic. Even though they didn’t make the batsmen play as much as they would have liked to – Southee’s first spell read 4-4-0-0 – Sami Aslam and Azhar Ali were content on crease occupation and seeing off the new ball, instead of picking runs. For 12 overs, there was deadbat defense, byes or easy deflections – the first boundary came in the eight over off a leg-stump half-volley – before de Grandhomme, given the ball ahead of Neil Wagner, turned the tide.
As good as New Zealand’s bowling was as the day progressed, a majority of the wickets came due to a succession of poor strokes brought about by uncertainty because of the swinging ball. Not for the first time, Misbah, who became the first Pakistani to captain in 50 Tests, was left to wage a lone battle with the lower middle order, thereby proving it was the top order’s impatience and not a menacing green top that contributed to their downfall. He was the penultimate batsman to be dismissed, when he was caught at mid-off on 31 in search of quick runs.
Resuming on 88 for 4, Pakistan’s need of the hour after lunch was to be prepared for the hard grind on a surface that was still fresh. Instead, Asad Shafiq, demoted to No. 6 after poor returns at the top of the order against West Indies in UAE last month, was out to a tame poke in the first over after the interval to give de Grandhomme his fourth wicket.
Sarfraz Ahmed tried to unsettle the bowlers by walking outside the crease, giving bowlers the charge and play a typically aggressive game. Not even being hit on the helmet by a steep bouncer altered his approach. Eventually a tame waft resulted in a simple catch to a relieved Todd Astle, who put down a chance earlier in the day, at gully. Mohamad Amir jumped and hopped his way for 15 deliveries, one of which even struck him on his left hand, before a Boult beauty squared him up to hit off stump. Grandhomme had his fifth when Sohail Khan chipped a simple catch to Tom Latham at midwicket.
The morning session was a tale of two halves. After negotiating the first hour without hassles, Pakistan were undone by de Grandhomme’s discipline. His first wicket was a beauty that nipped back in to beat Azhar Ali’s forward defense. The old adage of ‘one brings two’ ensured when Southee, brought in from the other end, made an impact immediately when he worked Sami Aslam, who jabbed hard to get a thick edge to Raval at second slip.
Babar Azam was reprieved on 4, but couldn’t curb his instincts of trying to drive on the up as he was pouched by Ross Taylor at second slip. When Younis Khan’s flashy cover drive to a delivery he could have left alone off de Grandhomme was pouched by Raval at second slip, Pakistan had sensationally slipped from 31 without loss to 56 for 4.
The constant right through the day was seam movement that demanded application against quality bowling. Unfortunately, Pakistan didn’t help matters with a series of injudicious shots. The nature of the collapse was such that Williamson didn’t even have to turn to his front-line spin option to give his fasten men a breather.
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo