Pakistan captain Babar Azam said his side were aiming to push for a win in the final session of the drawn second Test against New Zealand on Friday, adding that a few late dismissals forced the hosts to take a backseat.
The two-Test series ended 0-0 as Pakistan held on for a thrilling draw on the final day of the second match. The home side started the day at 0 for 2, needing 319 runs to win and were staring down the barrel after being reduced to 80 for five.
However, a valiant hundred from Sarfaraz Ahmed kept Pakistan in the hunt for a thrilling win. The former skipper stitched up a 123-run stand with Saud Shakeel (32) for the sixth wicket before adding another 70 runs with Agha Salman (30) for the seventh.
Ahmed kept losing partners at the other end and was eventually dismissed for 118 as Pakistan fell 15 runs short of the target, with bad light forcing a draw.
Speaking at the post-match presentation, Babar Azam said Pakistan could have pushed for the win had they stitched up one more partnership. He said:
"Our plan after Tea was to go for the chase. Sarfaraz accelerated and Saud took some chances, and that's when we thought we'll go for it. Our plan was to keep things simple till the final session. If we got a partnership in the middle order, then it would've been a different plan. Our plan changed after Agha was out."
The right-handed batter admitted they haven't performed as they would've liked, but suggested his side improved significantly from the England series.
"We didn't perform as per people's expectations but there were positives: we want to polish the positives and remove the negatives," he added.
The captain singled out Sarfaraz for putting in the hard yards despite being out of the team for four years and making the most of his opportunity.
"Dream comeback for him. Saifi bhai did not let the fire die within him in four years. Work ethic was always there and continued to wait for his turn. We could've won also briefly, and it was because of his confidence and belief."
With 335 runs in four innings averaging 83.75, the keeper-batter also bagged the Player of the Series award. His scores in the series are 86, 53, 78, and 118.
Babar Azam to lead Pakistan in the three-game ODI series against New Zealand
Pakistan and New Zealand will now turn their attention to the three-match ODI series, commencing on January 9 in Karachi. After not registering a single series win in the current home season, Babar Azam will look forward to sealing a victory in the 50-over series.
Pakistan's men's team's Interim Chief of Selector Shahid Afridi announced a 16-man squad, recalling Haris Sohail and Fakhar Zaman. It also has uncapped players like Usama Mir, Tayyab Tahir, and Kamran Ghulam.
Get IPL 2023 Live Score along with Points Table & Schedule Updates at Sportskeeda.