• Daring declaration earns NZ series win over Pakistan

    A bold and inspired declaration by New Zealand on the fifth morning of the third Test against Pakistan – backed by a superb team effort in the field – earned the Black Caps a 123-run victory in the third Test to take the series 2-1.

    Kane Williamson was caught on his crease and trapped leg before off the first ball of the day by Hasan Ali, his gutsy 139 coming off 283 balls with 13 fours.

    Henry Nicholls struck a four off the first and second overs of the day to move within one run of his third Test century, which he duly completed with a push to mid-on off the first ball of the third over of the morning.

    Nicholls and Colin de Grandhomme then set about the Pakistan bowling in pursuit of a declaration, De Grandhomme slashing two fours and two sixes in his 19-ball 26, while Nicholls also peppered the boundary.

    De Grandhomme was caught by Bilal Asif off Yasir Shah, bringing Tim Southee to the crease, and he smacked a quick-fire 15 off 10 balls (including one six) as New Zealand boldly declared on 353-7 after 113 overs. Nicholls ended the innings undefeated on 126 off 266 balls (12×4) as Pakistan were set 280 off a minimum of 79 overs, at just over 3.5 runs per over.

    Yasir Shah ended with figures of 4-129 off 39 overs (econ 3.30) to add to his first innings 3-75, while debutant Shaheen Shah Afridi returned 2-85 after taking 1-52 in New Zealand’s first innings.

    New Zealand rekindled dreams of their incredible first Test fightback at Abu Dhabi when they captured seven Pakistan second-innings wickets for 41 runs to snatch a sensational four-run victory after being behind the eight-ball for most of the Test. As Pakistan began their chase of 280, their top-order collapsed in dramatic fashion.

    Mohammad Hafeez was the first to go with the score on 19, the 38-year-old bowled by a pearler to send him packing in his final Test match for just eight runs off 20 balls. Hafeez had been caught by Southee off the bowling of Trent Boult in the first innings for a duck, leaving him with 3652 runs from 55 Tests.

    Azhar Ali was caught behind by BJ Watling off the bowling of De Grandhomme for five with the score on 32, before Pakistan lost two more wickets on 43, both caught off the bowling of debutant Will Somerville, who had taken 4-75 in Pakistan’s first innings. Haris Sohail fell for nine, while Asad Shafiq was caught by Watling first ball.

    More drama followed as Imam-ul-Haq was caught by Nicholls off Ajaz Patel for 22 off 54 balls on the stroke of lunch, leaving Pakistan 55-5 and with two sessions to survive.

    After lunch, Babar Azam and Sarfraz Ahmed set about repairing the innings, adding 43 runs in 15 overs before Sarfraz fell for 28 off 41 balls (2×4), bowled by Somerville. Bilal Asif was caught behind off Southee for a pedestrian 12 off 28 balls as Pakistan looked to close up shop. Bilal had added 33 for the seventh wicket with Babar Azam as Pakistan stumbled to 133-7, still 147 runs from victory.

    Just 11 balls later Yasir Shah popped an easy catch to Patel in the covers as Southee picked up his third wicket of the innings. Four overs later the mainstay of the innings, Babar Azam, fell after a gritty 51 off 114 balls (5×4), caught Southee off the bowling of Patel.

    Southee claimed the last wicket as Hasan Ali holed out to Williamson off the bowling of Patel. Pakistan were all out for 156 off 56.1 overs and New Zealand had sealed a spectacular and well-served Test series win against a strong opponent who had at pivotal moments twice failed spectacularly with the bat during the series.

    Southee and Patel both finished with figures of 3-42, while Somerville capped off a great first Test match with 3-53 to take his match haul to 7-128.


    Photo:  Francois Nel/Getty Images

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    Simon Lewis