A “mature” Shaheen Afridi was left “disappointed” with Pakistan’s fielding on day one of the Mount Maunganui Test, as the team dropped three catches against New Zealand, failing to take full advantage of their decision to bowl first.
Pakistan started the day strongly, reducing the hosts to 13 for 2 inside 11 overs, but could only pick up one more wicket till the end of play, as New Zealand ended with 222. Afridi returned figures of 3 for 55, while the other five bowlers, including the experienced Mohammad Abbas and Yasir Shah, all went wicketless. Pakistan will be particularly frustrated considering how well they did to squeeze the flow of runs, but allowed the momentum to slip away as two catches off Naseem Shah were put down, while Haris Sohail dropped a relatively straight catch at slips, off Afridi. Pakistan also missed a review on a potential Kane Williamson lbw, denying them the chance to have a go at New Zealand’s middle order.
“They batted hard but I am 100% frustrated by the dropped catches. It’s disappointing when you drop catches, and we didn’t take the review (on Williamson),” Afridi said. “We did try to get wickets early on with new balls and took two wickets but if you don’t take catches it will be difficult. It’s a part of the game but if you need to win matches you have to take catches and have to improve the fielding. They know how to play in their conditions so it is tough, but the ball is still new and tomorrow we will come hard to take wickets as early as possible.”
Ross Taylor, who became the most capped player for New Zealand, was playing Afridi for the second time in his career and acknowledged the progress the fast bowler had made since making his debut as an 18-year-old in Abu Dhabi two years ago. Overall, Afridi has dismissed Taylor twice in three innings, bowling 32 dot balls and conceding just 31 runs. Afridi and Abbas shared the major chunk of the workload on Saturday, bowling a combined 41 overs.
“I think when we first played him, obviously I think it was his first test. He is lot more mature now and the way he’s trying to set you up, I think it’s quite often a left-arm ball that doesn’t necessarily swing back as much. But I thought, you know, when the ball was 50 overs old, he was still swinging. He picked and choose when to use it.
“He’s got a slippery bumper, you know, he’s only going to get better. And I’m sure he’s going to enjoy obviously this wicket. But in Christchurch as well. And I think, you know, Pakistan, they’re going to see a very, very good bowler in years to come.”