Pakistan vs New Zealand – 1st test. Pakistan won the toss and elected to bat.
Pakistan 1st innings 317 for 5 in 90 overs (Babar Azam 161*, Sarfaraz 86, Patel 2/91, Bracewell 2/61)
England left Pakistan a week back but Bazball seems to have stayed behind. Bazball is an attitude. One which says that regardless of the situation I will try to be positive, score runs and pick up wickets. Runs can be scored in ones and two’s. They can be scored along the ground by hitting the ball in the gaps. Bazball doesn’t say throw caution to the wind in trying to hit fours and sixes. It says back yourself and keep the game moving forward. Attitude is something that you are born with. Once England decided they wanted to play a certain style of cricket they went looking for the right personnel who have that attitude.
Ramiz Raja who was the president of the Pakistan cricket board during the England series openly praised their style of play. It felt like he wanted Pakistan to follow England’s footsteps. It’s a different story that after the England series Ramiz got sacked. A week is a long time in Pakistan cricket. A week is actually a long time in Pakistan.
Pakistan’s top order looked like they wanted to post 500 on day 1 and in an effort to dominate the kiwis they lost their wickets to some really poor shots and the 1st session saw them in disarray first at 48 for 3 and then at 110 for 4. The blackcap’s spinners made the most of a slightly damp surface to extract turn and bounce with the new ball but the batters made it look unplayable.
New captain Tim Southee was innovative and aggressive with his field placings. It was a welcome change from Kane Williamson’s style where he often waited for things to happen. The only mistake the blackcaps made in the whole session was to drop the regulation chance offered by Babar Azam. Darryl Mitchell is a good slip fielder. He showed us that when he caught Sarfaraz Ahmed late in the day. But he will probably not sleep very well knowing that his mistake early in the day has already cost the blackcaps 149 runs. Batters like Babar don’t offer many chances. Plus they make you pay heavily when you give them an additional life.
The story of the day though was that of the returning Sarfaraz Nawaz. He last played a test match for Pakistan four years back. He made his test debut in 2010 but had never played a test match at home as there was no international cricket played in Pakistan since 2009. Sarfaraz walked in with his team in trouble and played a typical wicket keepers rescue act innings. The 196 run stand between him and Babar firmly gave the honors of day 1 to Pakistan. Babar peels off hundreds for fun in these conditions and with him unbeaten on 161 overnight New Zealand have to get early wickets tomorrow morning.
The blackcaps toiled hard in the Karachi heat. Southeebowled well but was guilty of straying down the leg side in an effort to attack the stumps. Wagner’s short ball weapon was blunted by the dead pitch. Once the early morning moisture evaporated and the ball became softer Ajaz and Bracewell didn’t get the same purchase of the wicket.
Sodhi’s selection was always going to raise questions. He last played a test match four years back. In a nine year career he has played 17 test matches. The lack of control required at this level being the problem. Did he once again get picked for red ball cricket because of his white ball form? Or is his selection a reflection on the spin bowling resources in New Zealand’s domestic circuit? Michael Rippon might have something to say about that.