Pakistan lost their last four wickets for one run late on the fifth day © AFP
Kane Williamson said the fourth victory of his captaincy will go down as “one of the great” Test wins, after New Zealand claimed nine wickets in the final session to seal a 138-run win. A draw had appeared the most likely result for most of day five, and although New Zealand had gone wicketless with the first new ball, they claimed six scalps with the second – Pakistan losing the last four wickets for one run, in the space of 14 balls.
Pakistan had also lost Sarfraz Ahmed to a run out shortly before the second new ball was due. “The wicket of Sarfraz was a big moment, but I guess when you take nine wickets in a session, they are all pretty big moments,” Williamson said. “It all happens pretty quickly. With the new ball around the corner, we thought if we could open up an end, and get a new batsman out to face the new ball, we would be in with a slim sniff. The feeling at tea time and now is pretty contrasting. This will go down as a great Test victory. For it to completely flip-turn was something pretty sudden, certainly.”
Williamson suggested Pakistan’s collapse had not been spurred by any cataclysmic shifts on strategy on New Zealand’s part. With the visitors having batted the first four hours of the day without losing a wicket, it was assumed that the Hamilton pitch had lost its sting.
“That surface was pretty good for batting,” Williamson said. “That certainly showed when first new ball didn’t do a huge amount. They batted very well and we weren’t able pick up those early wickets. Only thing we could do was stick with it and try and control the game. To get that breakthrough – which took a long time – we did have to stay patient.”
New Zealand had given themselves 101 overs to bowl Pakistan out, after declaring late on the fourth day. With 369 needed for victory in the fourth innings, Pakistan had also had incentive to attempt the chase, as they were trailing in the series.
“If you look back to yesterday and discussions around declaration in terms of giving the opposition an opportunity to track down the total and play a few shots – that perhaps worked in our favour,” Williamson said. “It was a big target. To chase it down, you have to play very well. They were getting themselves into a position – nowadays, with T20 cricket, you give yourselves 30 overs and think about what you can chase. That seemed to be how they were taking down the total.
“Where we were really good in those first two sessions is keeping the run rate down below two. It kept pushing the required rate up a bit higher, and made them go hard a bit earlier. That presented us with a few opportunities. Pakistan are a very good side who know how to bat time, so perhaps we were fortunate to get nine in the last session.”
The 2-0 victory means New Zealand will now move into the remainder of their seven-Test home summer with some confidence. They had suffered four consecutive Test losses before this series had begun.
“It was going to be a big challenge coming home from India and a tough series against South Africa. The guys picked themselves up,” Williamson said. “I suppose we went back to the drawing board with how we’d like to play our cricket at home. Sometimes the baggage from previous results can be tough to get past, but the guys were fantastic. They had a couple of days off and they came back fresh, raring to go. They’re all looking forward to a big home summer.”
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo