HomeSports NewsRecent Match Report - Pakistan vs New Zealand 1st Test 2022/23

Recent Match Report – Pakistan vs New Zealand 1st Test 2022/23

Tea Pakistan 438 and 249 for 7 (Shakeel 23*, Wasim 20*, Sodhi 5-66) lead New Zealand 612 for 9 dec by 75 runs

Ish Sodhi‘s maiden five-wicket haul in Test cricket left Pakistan precariously close to their fifth successive defeat in the format but Saud Shakeel and Mohammad Wasim kept fighting and added 43 in an unbroken stand for the eighth wicket. At tea on the final day in Karachi, Pakistan had a lead of 75 with three wickets in hand. There are still a minimum of 35 overs left in the day for New Zealand to force a result.

The post-lunch session belonged to Sodhi. Having trapped Babar Azam lbw with a googly in the morning session, Sodhi picked up three more wickets after lunch to go with one he took last evening.

Babar’s wicket had reduced Pakistan to 100 for 4 but Imam-ul-Haq and Sarfaraz Ahmed revived the innings with their 85-run stand for the fifth wicket. After lunch, Sarfaraz brought up his second half-century of the match but fell on the very next ball. It was a short and wide delivery from Sodhi but Sarfaraz toe-ended his cut into the wicketkeeper’s gloves.

Perhaps to maintain the left-right combination, Pakistan sent in Salman Agha ahead of Saud Shakeel. Agha had scored a century in the first innings but this time Sodhi got one to sneak through his defences early.

The biggest blow to Pakistan’s hopes came in Sodhi’s next over. Throughout his innings, Imam had come down the track to counter Sodhi’s turn from the rough outside off. He was 96 when he used his feet again but this time Sodhi slipped in a googly to leave him stranded so far down the wicket that even a slight delay from Tom Blundell in effecting the stumping didn’t matter.

Imam was furious with himself. On his way back to the pavilion, he smashed a chair with his bat and then threw his bat away. A New Zealand win looked likely at that stage but Shakeel and Wasim kept the visitors at bay, even after they took the second new ball.

In the morning, Tim Southee created a chance in the second over of the day when Imam drove at a full ball and got an outside edge. But there was no slip in place and the resulting boundary took Imam to his half-century. But it didn’t take long for New Zealand to pick up their first wicket of the morning. In the next over, Bracewell dismissed nightwatcher Nauman Ali lbw.

Babar walked in at No. 5 and, after defending the first few deliveries, took full advantage when Bracewell erred on the shorter side. The Pakistan captain rocked back and pulled the offspinner to the square-leg boundary twice in a 12-run over.

That prompted Southee to bring on Sodhi, and the legspinner struck with his very first ball this morning, trapping Babar lbw. Babar opted to review the on-field verdict but it proved futile.

Sarfaraz started aggressively. After picking up two back-to-back fours off Southee, he hit three boundaries in Ajaz Patel’s first over of the day. The first two came via the sweep shot, and when Ajaz switched to over the wicket, Sarfaraz jumped towards the leg side and cut him through covers to move to 25 off 15 balls.

But after that, Ajaz started bowling well outside leg, and apart from an occasional reverse sweep, Sarfaraz looked happy to pad him away.

Imam kept chipping in from the other end. With the partnership having crossed 50, Neil Wagner was introduced into the attack for the first time in the innings in the 57th over. He started around the wicket, and even had Blundell standing up to the stumps for an over, but Imam and Sarfaraz saw him out to take the side to lunch. But Sodhi opened up the game after the interval.

Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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