Saturday, December 8, 2018

Pakistan v New Zealand: Three Somerville wickets help New Zealand seal series win

Pakistan vs New Zealand (PAK vs NZ) 3rd Test: Twitteratis hailed skipper Kane Williamson's 'epic' reply on former Pakistani cricketer Ramiz Raja 'you had to wait 49 years' remark in post-match presentation.

Pakistan v New Zealand: Three Somerville wickets help New Zealand seal series win

Kane Williamson-led New Zealand snatched a monumental win in UAE on Friday evening (December 7) as the visitors capped off a historic 2-1 series win against Pakistan on Asian soil. The Blackcaps sealed their first win in Asia against Pakistan since 1969. After the match, former Pakistani cricketer Ramiz Raja asked him about his 'wait for 49 years for this moment' in the post-match presentation and Williamson came up with an 'epic reply.

Raja asked, "You had to wait 49 years for this moment.." and with a smile on his face Williamson replied, "I didn't wait for 49 years," before he broke into laughter. Well, a series win was what this New Zealand team had expected with their belief being devoid of the 49-year-old record. In fact, last time New Zealand had won a Test series in Asia, veteran cricketer Ross Taylor was 21-days old, while none of the remaining players, including the skipper, were even born. Soon after the reply, Twitterati trolled Raja as they hailed Williamson's reply as 'epic'.

Talking about New Zealand's massive 123-run win against Pakistan in the third Test, Williamson, who was adjudged as the Man of the Match for his gritty century on the fourth day, said, "Fantastic performance to be a part of. Pakistan are a very difficult team to beat and showed how strong they are in Dubai. We knew there was a lot of hard work to do. After the first innings, we felt we had a good total but Pakistan came back well. To get a good second innings target and to come out today to perform like that was superb. The spinners came on this tour and showed their experience, which was massive for us."

Pakistan got off to a disastrous start in their second innings with Tim Southee knocking over Mohammad Hafeez for a mere eight runs with a peach of a delivery in his final Test innings. Hafeez, who announced his retirement from Test cricket recently, would have been out in the very first over if Williamson didn't drop him at gully. First-innings centurion Azhar Ali too couldn't survive for long, falling caught behind off Colin de Grandhomme away-swinger for five runs.

Skipper Williamson finally introduced spin in the 17th over and after watching Ajaz Patel get ample purchase from the surface, also brought William Somerville into the attack. Somerville straightaway made an impact by dismissing Haris Sohail (9) and Asad Shafiq (nought) in consecutive deliveries to break the backbone of the hosts' batting line-up. While Sohail ended up edging a flighted delivery to Ross Taylor at first slip, Shafiq managed to glove a delivery - that was going down leg - to the wicketkeeper.

Amidst all the chaos, Imam-ul-Haq played a couple of attacking shots before inside-edging one straight to forward short leg at the stroke of lunch.

Having been reduced to 55 for 5, captain Sarfraz Ahmed took the counter-attacking approach and smashed a couple of solid strokes square of the wicket. Sarfraz added 43 runs for the sixth wicket with Babar Azam before getting knocked over by Somerville for 28. Bilal Asif (12) stuck around for a while before falling to Southee's trap.

Azam showed good resilience and brought up his ninth fifty in this format. He was batting well before he played an outrageous heave that saw the ball balloon into the hands of the mid-off fielder. In his 114-ball 51, Azam hit five boundaries but his departure saw the final wall of resistance broken down for the home side and eventually it gave New Zealand a historic win.

For New Zealand, Southee, Ajaz and Somerville scalped three wickets each while de Grandhomme chipped in with the crucial blow of Azhar.

Earlier, resuming the final day on 272 for 4, Williamson was pinned right in front of the stumps on the very first delivery. Hasan Ali managed to bring that delivery in and that's what did the trick for him. However, the other overnight batsman Nicholls got the ball rolling with a couple of boundaries that helped him to bring up his third Test century.

The moment he went past the 100-run mark, Nicholls started playing his shots and got good support from De Grandhomme (26) and Southee (15*) who chipped in with handy cameos and gave New Zealand a match-winning platform.