Southee, spinners secure New Zealand a historic series win
After quickly setting them a target of 280, thanks to centuries from Kane Williamson and Henry Nicholls, New Zealand bolwed Pakistan out for 156 on the fifth day of the third and final Test at Abu Dhabi to win their first away series against Pakistan since 1969.
Things began horrendously for Pakistan with Tim Southee getting the new ball to talk. He first drew a hasty drive from Mohammad Hafeez to second slip, where Kane Williamson – who had been dismissed first ball of the day by Hasan Ali – let it burst through his hands. But the New Zealand didn't have to regret it much, Southee getting one to straighten and scatter the retiring batsman's stumps for just 8.
New Zealand claim a famous 2-1 series win in the UAE!— ICC (@ICC) December 7, 2018
Pakistan are dismissed for 156 and the Blackcaps win by 123 runs - it's their first Test series win in Asia since 2008, their first away to Pakistan since 1969! #PAKvNZ scorecard ➡️ https://t.co/cS8PI6iRJlpic.twitter.com/66tmPxirHh
Azhar Ali too was troubled by the early seam movement, and feathered a nick to the wicket-keeper off Colin de Grandhomme for just five. With the quicks giving the opening, the spinners tore in.
Somerville, who had taken 4/75 in Pakistan's first innings to keep them down to 348 despite tons from Azhar and Asad Shafiq, struck two successive blows to severely set Pakistan back. He first induced an edge off Sohail to second slip with turn and bounce, having him for nine, and then got a tickle of Shafiq down leg. Shafiq would have gotten for it were it not for New Zealand's review.
It was very nearly three for Somerville before lunch itself, when he struck Babar Azam seemingly plumb in front, but a review saved Azam as he had nicked it.
Imam ul Haq had looked good playing a more attacking game, especially targetting Ajaz Patel's left-arm spin. But the bowler had the last laugh, Imam getting an inside edge onto pads for 22, resulting in a simple catch at short leg. Pakistan had been reduced to 55/5 at the stroke of lunch.
Sarfraz Ahmed and Azam looked to play positively after lunch instead of simply trying to play defensively. The approach worked for a partnership of 43 runs until Sarfraz was bamboozled by Somerville for 28.
Bilal Asif never looked very at ease, but stuck it out for 48 deliveries to raise hopes of Pakistan salvaging the match, but Tim Southee decided to test him with short stuff, occasionally slipping in the fuller one. Asif was so rattled that he even ducked into a length ball, and survived an lbw shout for it. But he finally nicked one to the keeper.
Babar Azam falls for 51 and Pakistan are on their last legs! Tea has been pushed back with New Zealand one wicket away from a famous win - the hosts need a miracle!#PAKvNZ LIVE ➡️ https://t.co/cS8PI6iRJlpic.twitter.com/vIZjPBXWdA— ICC (@ICC) December 7, 2018
Yasir Shah too faced the barrage and top-edged a simple catch off another Southee short ball to short cover when trying to hit his way out of trouble, leaving Pakistan close to 30 overs to face with just two wickets in hand.
All that while Azam continued to bat solidly and took on the Southee short balls with cracking pull shots. He brought up his fifty with a drive to cover, but offered a simple catch off Somerville to slip immediately after. But he tried to go for a big hit off Patel only shortly later, only miscuing just past mid-off, where Tim Southee ran back to take a stunner.
Hasan Ali then miscued an attempted slog off Somerville to point, and New Zealand had secured the series without letting the match go into the third session.
Lunch in Abu Dhabi!— ICC (@ICC) December 7, 2018
Pakistan in all sorts of trouble. They've been reduced to 55/5, with debutant Will Somerville returning 2/4!
New Zealand need five wickets to win, with two sessions left to play. #PAKvNZ LIVE
Earlier, Williamson had been trapped in front first ball of the day by Hasan Ali to fall for his overnight 139. But Colin de Grandhomme came out and whacked a quickfire 26, including two fours and two sixes to help quickly add heft to the lead. Nicholls, overnight 90, got past his ton and played a bunch of fine strokes too.
Leg-spinner Yasir Shah had removed de Grandhomme and Watling off successive balls, but by then New Zealand had a substantial lead. After a Tim Southee six and a few more quick runs from Nicholls, New Zealand decided to make a sporting declaration less only 47 minutes into day's play, leaving Pakistan close to 80 overs to get 280. It proved to be enough time for New Zealand to secure a comfortable win.