Pakistan’s strong comeback from Babar’s century innings
Babar Azam completes century by hitting six
Sarfaraz Ahmed also looked in good shape
new Delhi. Captain Babar Azam’s century innings and an unbroken 114-run fifth-wicket partnership with Sarfaraz Ahmed, who is returning to the Test team, helped Pakistan win the first Test of the two-match series against New Zealand. Recovering from a bad start, scored 224 runs for four wickets till tea break here on Monday. Babar has so far hit 11 fours and a six in his 186-ball innings. He completed the ninth century of his Test career by hitting a six against Michael Bracewell on the first ball of the 53rd over. He got good support from former captain Sarfaraz from the other end. This wicket-keeper batsman, playing the first Test after 2019, has so far scored 43 runs in 67 balls with the help of seven fours.
The brilliant batting of both kept the New Zealand bowlers away from success in the second season. Babar got two lives in the opening session of the day. When he was on 12, Daryl Mitchell took a simple catch in the slips. After this, in the first over of Ish Sodhi, the on-field umpire called him leg before, but after taking the help of the review, he remained at the crease. The New Zealand team, which came for a Test series after 20 years on Pakistan tour, dominated the opening session of the first day. Spin bowlers Ejaz Patel (1/69) and Bracewell (2/52) got a lot of help from the pitch in the first hour of play. Sensing the mood of the pitch, New Zealand’s new captain Tim Southee handed the ball to Patel in the fourth over of the innings itself.
Patel also did not disappoint the captain and showed the way to the pavilion to Abdullah Shafiq (seven) on his third ball. After missing two consecutive balls, Shafiq came out of the crease on the third ball but the ball got extra spin and wicketkeeper Tom Blundon made no mistake in stumping. After this, Shan Masood (three) was also stumped in the same manner on the ball of off-spinner Bracewell. Bracewell achieved his second success by getting Imam-ul-Haq (24) caught by Saudi. Pakistan’s team was struggling after losing three wickets for 48 runs but Babar held one end. At the other end, he got good support from Saud Shakeel (22). Shakeel, who scored four half-centuries in the series against England, shared a 62-run partnership with the captain for the fourth wicket but was caught by Henry Nicholls off Southee’s bowling before lunch.
During this, Babar completed his half-century in 76 balls by hitting a four off the New Zealand captain. After this, the second session was entirely in the name of Pakistan. Pakistan’s team has come into this match with three changes. Wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan has been rested, giving Sarfaraz a chance to play Test for the first time since 2019. Left-arm fast bowler Mir Hamza, who came in place of all-rounder Faheem Ashraf, will play his first Test since 2018. Imam did not play the third test match against England due to muscle strain.
FIRST PUBLISHED : December 26, 2022, 17:17 IST