Needing 176 runs to win in the final innings, Pakistan were cruising towards the target at 130/3, with Asad Shafiq and Azhar Ali well-set at the crease. But what followed was a batting-order collapse as the remaining six wickets fell for just 41 runs, courtesy Ajaz Patel’s exceptional bowling (5 for 59).
“It is disappointing,” said Sarfraz at the post-match presentation. “The start today wasn't good, but the way Azhar (Ali) and Asad (Shafiq) played, we should have finished it off.”
“We need to give credit to Ajaz (Patel). The pitch changed and he bowled well. The batsmen should have scored the runs in the first place, but some of the shots played by the tail were quite disappointing. We had opportunities right through the game, first to score big runs in the first innings and then to finish off the game.”
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson was delighted with the way his side kept themselves in the game and reckoned that such a match was a great advert for Test cricket.
“It was a real fighting effort from the side,” said the Kiwi skipper. “The surface wasn't the easiest - it offered good turn on day one and all the spinners did a fantastic job. The match is a great advertisement for Test cricket. It went on only for three days but went all the way to the wire.
“We need to go back and work on areas, Pakistan are a superb team and we should be proud of ourselves. The attitude throughout the game was outstanding. We saw through the game that wickets fell in clumps and that was reflective of the way the game ended. Those two bowlers (Ajaz and Wagner) were fantastic, then just kept bowling.
“There are so many small margins, and when you have such games where you win or lose closely, you can find things that you need to improve on.”
Williamson, who now has nine wins in his 18 Tests in charge, described the win as "one of his best."
"Yes, without a doubt. The best in recent memory. In these conditions, Pakistan are a very strong side. To get through them in four days and stay in the match and come out with this result must obviously rank as one of our best wins."
Ajaz Patel, who was on his Test debut, credited the relaxed environment in the dugout for his success. The left-arm spinner picked up seven wickets in the game, inclusive of a five-wicket haul in the second innings, which earned him the Player of the Match Award.
”My gameplan was pretty simple,” the 30-year-old said. “The scoreboard didn't look simple but we just kept plugging away. It is a very relaxed environment we have and we don't try to overdo anything. In terms of pressure on my debut, I have put in a lot of hardwork and just leave the rest to the Almighty. It is a great feeling to pull off such wins in the final innings; just a great feeling. At any point, the game could have gone either way, but we just kept sticking in."
First Published: November 19, 2018, 5:26 PM IST