Pakistan collapse in a heap against unrelenting pace and hostility
New Zealand 659 for 6 dec (Williamson 238, Nicholls 157, Mitchell 102*) beat Pakistan 297 (Azhar 93, Jamieson 5-69) and 186 (Gohar 37, Jamieson 6-48) by an innings and 176 runs
Ambushed by pace and hostility, Pakistan’s forgettable tour of New Zealand is over. A 2-0 series sweep for New Zealand makes them the No. 1 side in Test cricket, and gives them a chance of making the final of the World Test Championship at Lord’s in June.
Kyle Jamieson, just six Tests old, was the shining star, finishing with match figures of 11 for 117 as New Zealand wrapped up victory inside four days. Pakistan’s 186 all out was not even a shade of their first-innings effort on a green day-one surface, where Azhar Ali and Mohammad Rizwan showed admirable fight.
Only debutant Zafar Gohar, who made 34 in the first innings, made some sort of an impression with the bat in the second to score 37. Picked as a bowling allrounder, he ended with none for 159 with his left-arm spin, but could be left wondering if he did enough with the bat to keep his place when Pakistan next play Tests, at home against South Africa.
It told you how much the rest of the bating line-up applied themselves – or didn’t – on a surface that was far from menacing. Azhar Ali’s 37 was joint-best in an innings in which Pakistan collapsed in a heap to Jamieson, who seems to operate with a simple formula: pitch it on a length, get the ball to rear off the deck and have the batsmen second-guessing their own technique.
This tactic consumed Abid Ali, who went for an expansive drive at the first sight of width. Having cut off his scoring for 20 deliveries and close to 40 minutes, he was out driving to backward point where substitute Will Young threw himself to his left to pull off a one-handed stunner.
Haris Sohail fell soon after lunch, pushing with an angled bat to one that nipped away, finishing the tour with a disappointing 28 runs in four innings. Then came the set-up of the day. Having figured Azhar wasn’t comfortable playing back, Jamieson decided to go the Neil Wagner way and attack his rib-cage from around the wicket.
One over is all it took for the plan to work as Azhar, looking to hop away to fend gloved one down the leg side to BJ Watling. This caused panic and a wayward approach to the short ball; the lower order looked to slog their way out of trouble rather than get behind the line.
Because the short ball was on their mind so much, the batsmen were eager to push at full deliveries, Mohammad Rizwan’s dismissal being a case in point. A sucker ball – full – did him in, swinging back in to sneak through the gap between bat and pad to crash into the stumps.
Fawad Alam, Pakistan’s only centurion on tour, then held one end up, somehow ducking and weaving his way out of a short-ball barrage against the old ball before poking at a delivery he should’ve left to be out of 16, caught by Ross Taylor at slip. From there on, it was only a question of when Pakistan would fold.
So assured were New Zealand of imminent victory that Kane Williamson, a reluctant bowler, brought himself on for the first time as captain. Having missed an lbw with a slider, he had Shaheen Afridi caught at slip going for a slog.
Victory was achieved an hour after tea when Gohar swung one to Matt Henry at long leg. This ended a golden Test summer for New Zealand, in which they won each of their four Tests – two apiece against West Indies and Pakistan.
Having done their bit, they’ll now sit back and watch how things pan out for Australia and India. Their results – and against each other and other teams – over the coming weeks will decide which two teams face off in the WTC final.
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo