First Test ends in draw after bold Pakistan declaration
Poor visibility ended a thrilling final session of cricket in the drawn first Test on Friday after New Zealand had threatened to snatch victory following Pakistan’s daring declaration.
Chasing 138 to win in 15 overs, New Zealand were 61-1 in only the eighth over of the second innings when the Test finished early because of bad light.
Pakistan resumed after tea at 249-7 in their second innings — a lead of 75 — and Kiwi leg-spinner Ish Sodhi (6-86) threatened to set up his team for victory.
Left-handed Saud Shakeel made an unbeaten 55 and got plenty of support from the two tailenders, Mohammad Wasim (43) and Mir Hamza (3 not out). They did so well that Pakistan captain Babar Azam caught the visitors by surprise and declared at 311-8 late in the final session.
It set New Zealand, who scored 612-9 declared in the first innings, a tempting target and the visitors went for it. Tom Latham was unbeaten on 35 and Devon Conway was not out on 18 when the light intervened to potentially save Pakistan from a fifth straight Test defeat at home.
“We wanted to get a result and that’s why we went for the declaration,” Babar said. “It’s cricket, you never know what happens, we took a chance, but the light was not good enough.”
Earlier, Pakistan’s middle-order had capitulated to 206-7 against Sodhi’s first five-for in Test matches and were ahead by only 32 runs before Shakeel came to the rescue.
Pakistan were in big trouble when Sodhi had top-scorer Imam-ul-Haq stumped for 96 an hour before tea and exposed the tail, but Wasim (43) and Shakeel defied the spin threat of Sodhi, Michael Bracewell and Ajaz Patel with an aggressive 71-run eighth-wicket stand.
“A couple of good innings took the game to safety for them,” said Tim Southee, who took the New Zealand captaincy after Kane Williamson stepped down ahead of the Black Caps’ first Test tour to Pakistan in 20 years.
“It was interesting declaration, but our intention was to chase it down.”
Sodhi again raised the visitors’ hopes when he had Wasim trapped leg before wicket off a flipper that thudded the batter’s pads on the backfoot with Pakistan stretching its lead to 103. However, Hamza, playing his first Test after four years, defended astutely before Babar declared.
The second Test begins at the same National Stadium from next Monday after it was shifted from Multan because of weather concerns. (Skysports)