SHARJAH // New Zealand completed an innings and 80-run win over Pakistan in the third and final Test in Sharjah yesterday, to level the three-match series 1-1.
Seamer Trent Boult took four for 38 and Mark Craig three for 109, which overshadowed Asad Shafiq’s career-best 137 as Pakistan were dismissed for 259 in their second innings.
The win was more praiseworthy in a week when New Zealand were left grieving and both team’s abandoned a day’s play in the Test over the tragic death of Australian batsman Phillip Hughes on Thursday.
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum conceded it was tough to play.
“It was definitely, really tough circumstances to play the Test,” McCullum said. “Our thoughts were elsewhere. Proud of the guys for sticking together.”
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq conceded the tragic news affected his team.
“After starting very well during the first day, whatever happened in the second day that was really difficult to concentrate. I was struggling to concentrate, it was really difficult to bat on and carry on.”
Boult ended Shafiq’s fighting 183-minute knock of 18 fours and six sixes – his fifth Test century – with a short delivery.
Craig wrapped up the innings by dismissing Rahat Ali for six to end with match figures of 10 for 203. He took seven for 94 in the first innings.
Boult struck three times in the space of 18 balls to leave Pakistan struggling at 24 for three before Craig and Sodhi (2-82) chipped in. Pakistan won the first Test in Abu Dhabi by 248 runs while the second ended in a draw in Dubai.
Pakistan’s batting failure was miserable on a pitch where New Zealand plundered 690.
Shafiq and Sarfraz Ahmed (37) tried to take the attack to the New Zealand bowlers with a 73-run stand for the sixth wicket before Sodhi removed Ahmed and Yasir Shah (10) in the same over before tea.
Shafiq hit Craig for a six and a four to reach his hundred off 123 balls to delay the defeat after Pakistan lost Mohammad Hafeez (24) and Misbah (12) in the post-lunch session.
Hafeez gave a return catch to Craig while Misbah was caught behind off the glove off the same bowler.
Boult shook Pakistan at the start of the innings, when he dismissed Shan Masood (four) in his second over, bowled Azhar Ali (six) in his fourth and trapped Younis Khan for a first ball duck in his fifth in a destructive spell.
Boult’s devastating spell came after New Zealand extended their first innings to 690 in the morning – their highest total in Test cricket.
That gave New Zealand a 339-run lead and Pakistan’s improbable task quickly looked insurmountable with Boult’s strikes.
Masood edged to the slips while Ali misjudged a ball that cut back and took his off stump.
Boult again used the angle well from around the wicket to trap the in-form Younis leg-before.
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