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Test cricket at its best in Abu Dhabi!

Byline: Qamar Ahmed

IN a pulsating finish New Zealand snatched a sensational victory from the jaws of defeat to set the tone for this three-match series. Till the end their bowlers having pinned down Pakistan's rather inept batting kept the pressure on as batsmen fumbled and wickets tumbled to achieve what at the stroke of lunch looked like going in favour of Pakistan.

For this credit must go to the Kiwis for the way they managed to handle a crisis situation with a cool headed captain Kane Williamson backing them up to turn the game over in their favour.

This was Test cricket at its best with both teams fighting to clinch the initiative but a better one winning in the end.

Their sensational win in the first Test owes much to their debutant left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel who had a haul of five wickets to enable New Zealand a well-deserved victory.

The others, Niel Wagner,Trent Boult and Ish Sodhi have all had full support in keeping the Pakistan batsmen in check and in control despite a fourth-wicket stand of 82 between Asad Shafiq and Azhar Ali who by lunch had taken Pakistan some hope by setting them on course to a possible victory.

But Pakistan batsmen made silly mistakes and paid heavy price for it by losing a match which should have been theirs for the taking.

Babar's mindless dash to the other end to get himself run out and Sarfraz Ahmed's second time dismissal in this match attempting a sweep were all part of this most unconvincing method applied for the run chase.

Reminding me of course of the 2010 Test at Sydney against Australia when Pakistan up against an exactly similar target folded like a pack of card to lose the match.

Their performance yesterday was no less than shambolic to say the least right from the start of play when they lost their three wickets within half an hour of play which no doubt pumped up the Kiwis to defend their small target which they did admirably, bowling to a plan to send shock waves in the Pakistan dressing room.

A suspect Pakistan batting line-up has always been everyone's cause for concern and this display of a rather disjointed effort in a run chase makes one wonder whether when under pressure they would ever stand up to the challenge.

This must be heartbreaking for the Pakistan supporters to see the way their team perished submitting themselves to defeat but in reality we all know that our batsmen have not had a kind of outing n outing in the field as have our bowlers.

In a game such as it was it was important to be supportive of their bowlers with their performance with the bat but our batsmen have seldom stood up to the expectation, nor they did here in this first Test which they lost with a such a close margin.

This obviously will no doubt haunt them for the rest of the series unless they pinch themselves harder to realise what a golden opportunity they have spilled to go one up in the series.

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Publication:Dawn (Karachi, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Nov 20, 2018
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