It was an enthralling day of Test cricket; for Pakistan, it was a case of so close yet so far but for New Zealand, it was a historic win as they became the number one ranked side in the world for the first time. Pakistan’s long resistance came to an end when Mitchell Santner plucked one that was hit straight back at him from Naseem Shah and the celebrations afterwards from the players told the story.
The win was out of question for Pakistan but needed a herculean effort to salvage a draw. The start was catastrophic as Azhar Ali fell in the second over of the day while playing a ball that was going away from him, a rather uncharacteristic shot. He faced 119 balls before getting dismissed.
What followed afterwards was a clear display of guts and application as Fawad Alam and Muhammad Rizwan battled it out for 52.3 overs. In the start, there were a few signs of nerves, the ball passing the outside edge a few time but once they came into terms with the pace of the pitch, they batted like champions. The Kiwi bowlers threw everything at them, changing angles, trying different fields, length bowling, short bowling but both batsmen had an answer to everything that was thrown at them. At tea time, Pakistan were back in the game and hope was rekindled.
Fawad Alam was at the forefront of Pakistan’s fight back. He answered all his critics and showed the value of hard grind in the domestic. His second test century came 11 years after his first. The left-hander scored 14 boundaries and reached his ton with a brilliant pull shot and the celebration told the story, a man content with his hard work.
Muhammad Rizwan, the captain scored another crucial half-century for his team. He faced 191 balls and occupied the crease for 285 minutes. In the last session, New Zealand brought showed why they are a force to reckon with in the cricketing world. Jamieson trapped Muhammad Rizwan while Fawad Alam got out on a loose ball.
Neil Wagner’s relentless spirit was on show once again as he bowled 29 overs with a fractured toe conceeding just 55. Kyle Jamieson took full advantage of his height as his deliveries climbed up on the batsmen. His spell included 26 overs for 35 runs with 13 maidens. Both of them picked up two wickets each.
At the end of Day 3, after his scans confirmed a fractured toe said, “Unless they carry me off on a stretcher, I’m going to try and do everything I can.”
Pakistan will take a lot of confidence in the next game from their performance on the last two days of this match while New Zealand will know they will be up against a roaring Pakistan side when the battle resumes on January 3.