‘Debutants were fantastic’- Williamson
An allrounder on debut took 6 wickets for 41, and a rookie opener hit 55 and 36 not out to claim the game’s highest aggregate, yet it was day three’s bowling effort that broke the match open, New Zealand captain Kane Williamson said.
Though New Zealand had secured a first-innings lead of 67, Pakistan had moved to 58 for 1 in the second innings, and appeared to be settling in, on a flattening surface. In an extended spell of tight and hostile bowling, however, New Zealand struck a double-blow, claiming the wickets of Babar Azam and Younis Khan in quick succession. They also accounted for Misbah-ul-Haq, Azhar Ali and Sarfraz Ahmed in a 15-ball burst in the third session, and when Mohammad Amir departed not long after, Pakistan had lost six wickets for 47 runs – their match prospects in tatters.
“Without a doubt our bowling effort in the second innings was the decisive period,” Williamson said. “We were hoping for some movement off the surface and Pakistan showed a lot of resistance – especially early – and were very patient. But the way that four seamers got into spells and held their areas for long periods at a time, it was world-class. They passed it over for the next bloke to take up the baton, and it was a huge effort being patient and getting the rewards later on in the day yesterday.
“We didn’t get the ball to do a huge amount in the second innings, but we held our lines and our lengths really consistently for a long period of time. It was really important to make that adjustment quickly and not get too greedy and overpitch, because in the first innings you did need to bowl fuller to get those rewards.”
The debutants – both from Auckland, and both sporting moustaches – received praise from their captain, given their impact on the match. In addition to his record-breaking first-innings haul, Colin de Grandhomme also struck 29 crucial first-innings runs, and claimed a further scalp in 14 second-innings overs that only cost 23.
“Colin was picked because his style of bowling complements the other bowlers,” Williamson said. “Tim Southee and Trent Boult are terrific swing bowlers, but when it isn’t swinging as much and you want to exploit a bit of nip out the surface, someone like Colin might be a good option, we felt. It turned out he certainly was. You do have to put the ball in the right area and he showed his composure as well, to execute his plans for a long period of time with the ball.”
Having top-scored in the first innings, Jeet Raval also proved a capable slip fielder, taking three catches in the cordon, before also completing an excellent diving catch in the outfield on day four.
“Jeet came into international cricket and it looked like he’d been there for years,” Williamson said. “He was very calm, very relaxed, and stuck to the game plan. To go out and open the innings, against a very good bowling attack, on a surface that was offering something to the seam bowlers and achieve what he did was great to see, particularly in the first innings. Then he showed his composure again in the chase for the victory.”
The victory was Williamson’s first as captain, both on home soil and against a top-nine opposition. It snapped a streak of four losses accrued on tours of India and South Africa.
“It’s nice to get a win, but more importantly to have a performance that didn’t show too much baggage from the past. There were a couple of really tough tours in South Africa and India. It was important we learned a lot, but at the same time, put some of that baggage away and tried to focus on what we needed to do here.”
The second Test begins from November 25, in Hamilton, where New Zealand could seal their first series win against Pakistan since 1984-85.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo