New Zealand 431 (Williamson 129, Watling 73, Taylor 70, Nicholls 56, Afridi 4-109, Yasir 3-113) and 180 for 5 Dec (Blundell 64, Latham 53, Naseem 3-55) beat Pakistan 239 (Ashraf 91, Rizwan 71, Jamieson 3-35) and 271 (Alam 102, Rizwan 60, Southee 2-33, Jamieson 2-35, Santner 2-52, Wagner 2-55, Boult 2-72) by 101 runs
In April 1988, Pakistan survived 129 overs in the fourth innings to save a famous Test match in Trinidad with just one wicket left, against a West Indies pace quartet of its time.
Thirty-two years and eight months later, Pakistan came within four-and-a-half overs of pulling off a near-repeat, against a New Zealand pace quartet that is now surely of comparable quality to that West Indies attack, certainly in its own conditions.
New Zealand successfully reviewed the not-out decision, and energy coursed through their ranks once more.
From the other end, Wagner kept coming, kept asking awkward questions of the batsman. Nineteen balls after Rizwan’s dismissal, he coaxed (bulldozed might be a better verb) an error out of Alam. He attacked the left-hander with short balls from left-arm around, climbing at unpredictable heights from his blind spot outside his leg stump. He stuck two forward short legs in his peripheral vision.
Alam had judged the short ball exceedingly well and played the pull with authority through his innings. But now he got cramped by a shoulder-high ball down the leg side and gloved it to wicketkeeper BJ Watling. His resistance had lasted 396 minutes and 269 balls.
Pakistan had just one recognized batsman left, and it was Wagner, again, who prised him out. He kept attacking Faheem Ashraf with the short ball, and Ashraf kept pulling him, controlling nearly all of them except one that flew over the head of deep backward square leg stationed a few yards inside the rope. Then Wagner sent down a good-length ball in the corridor and got it to straighten by the tiniest degree. Ashraf could have covered the movement with a half-decent front-foot stride, but he failed to get one in, having been pushed back by all those short balls.
At that point, New Zealand needed just three wickets with 16.1 overs remaining. But Pakistan’s lower order wouldn’t give up. Between them, Mohammad Abbas, Naseem Shah, and Shaheen Afridi – who underwent multiple concussion checks after ducking into a Wagner bouncer early in his innings – resisted the bowling for 80 balls. The pitch was flat enough by now for Nos. 9, 10, and 11 to get in line and defend Trent Boult and Tim Southee with a reasonable degree of comfort.
But they got through the uncomfortable periods, and gradually began to shift the day’s momentum, with batting getting easier as the ball aged. By the time the new ball arrived, Rizwan had faced more than 100 balls and Alam nearly 200, and they began finding the boundary with greater frequency, even as the uncertain bounce increased in frequency and magnitude. As the final session approached its final hour, belief surged through both camps. On another day, Alam and Rizwan may well have outlasted Wagner and Jamieson.