They were made to toil, but Pakistan completed a comfortable innings victory to square the three-match series 1-1 against New Zealand at Dubai.
The architect of the victory was Yasir Shah, who finished with a match tally of 14 wickets to give the hosts their victory. He had run through the New Zealand batting order with eight wickets in the first session and added another fifer in the second essay. He ended up with 14 wickets in the match – equalling Imran Khan for the most wickets taken in a match by a Pakistan bowler. He was well supported by Hasan Ali, who picked up 3 for 46, to fashion the hosts’ win late on the penultimate day.
Yasir’s performance was one for the top drawer. He put on show a full array of skills, bamboozling the batsmen on the way to a record haul. He had to battle a little longer in the second innings, but consistently proved that he was on the top of his game.
Pakistan’s wickets were much more hard fought in the second session. New Zealand resisted hard, with Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls and Tom Latham all scoring fifties as they pushed to claw their way back in the game.
Latham’s was an innings of patience. He had shown how the rest of the line up can handle the Yasir threat, but fell early on the day, ruled out caught behind to Hasan Ali after notching up his fifty. Ross Taylor took the aggressive approach. He cut and swept with abandon, scoring a quickfire 82 off 128 balls, before the sweep shot brought about his downfall. It was a well-planned dismissal for Pakistan, who had a man stationed in the deep for the top edge against the tall Bilal Asif.
Henry Nicholls mirrored Latham with his patience. He scored 77 off 187 balls, and kept the New Zealand hopes flickering even after the dismissal of the aforementioned duo.
But the star of the day was Yasir. He’d already picked up two wickets the previous day, getting rid of Jeet Raval and Kane Williamson the previous day, and his influence continued into Day 4. He had wait until his 20th over of the day to break through, but when it came it was the all-important opening. Watling and Nicholls had been involved in a 57-run stand for the fifth wicket, helping New Zealand chip away at the deficit. The pair had batted nearly 25 overs when Yasir finally trapped Watling in front.
After de Grandomme fell, to Hasan Ali, Yasir came back to remove Ish Sodhi, Neil Wagner and Trent Boult, fittingly taking the final wicket of the game to give Pakistan their series-levelling triumph.
Brief Scores: Pakistan 418/5 decl beat New Zealand 90 (Yasir Shah 8-41) & 312 (Ross Taylor 82, Yasir 6-143) by an innings and 16 runs.