Dramatic Pakistan collapse gives Stead first New Zealand Test win
Pakistan suffered a dramatic collapse in the first Test with New Zealand as debutant Ajaz Patel took the clinching wicket that gave Gary Stead victory in his maiden five-day game as coach.
The designated hosts appeared in complete command in Abu Dhabi as they chased a target of 176, Azhar Ali (65) and Asad Shafiq (45) steering them to 130-3.
However, New Zealand's attack, led by the outstanding Patel (5-59) produced an unbelievable turnaround, Pakistan losing their final seven wickets for just 41 runs and falling five shy of victory in an agonising defeat.
A nervy finish saw Mohammad Abbas survive a review after a huge appeal for caught behind from New Zealand but, after being denied what he thought was the final wicket, Patel delivered the goods to trap Azhar in front, the decision held up on review to spark jubilant scenes among the tourists.
Ajaz Patel is the Player of the Match on debut for his second innings figures of 5/59
He helped New Zealand claim a thrilling four run victory over Pakistan.#PAKvNZ pic.twitter.com/EPr5pP9hzS
— ICC (@ICC) November 19, 2018
New Zealand take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series but that prospect could hardly have looked more unlikely in the morning session as Pakistan recovered from losing the wickets of Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez and Haris Sohail in the space of eight balls.
Azhar and Shafiq guided Pakistan into a position of apparent complete command and, though the latter fell to Neil Wagner before lunch, what followed after the interval could scarcely have been believed.
A mix-up between Azhar and Babar Azam (13) brought about the fifth wicket through a run-out and Pakistan's lower order crumbled in short order, Sarfraz Ahmed and Bilal Asif joining Patel's list of victims, while Yasir Shah nicked Wagner to wide slip to leave Azhar and Abbas as the last line of resistance.
It looked as if they would hold firm after a review proved Abbas had not edged behind to BJ Watling and Pakistan inched to within a maximum of victory.
Yet Patel would not be denied and produced a superb delivery that pitched just in line and struck Azhar high on the pad, the review upholding the decision on the field as New Zealand successfully defended their second-lowest target in Tests, leaving
Azhar and the sparse number of Pakistan fans devastated as Stead and his charges celebrated wildly.
The victory, New Zealand's narrowest in the longest format, gives them a chance to clinch a first series win over Pakistan on foreign soil since 1969-70 in the second Test in Dubai, which starts on Saturday.