New Zealand captain Kane Williamson described his team’s sensational four-run win over Pakistan in Abu Dhabi as the best in his recent memory.
Defending a modest target of 175 the Black Caps skittled out Pakistan for 171 in a dramatic fourth day of the first Test at Zayed Cricket Stadium on Monday.
“Pakistan are strong side on these conditions and to get through the four days and stay in the match, and then come out with this result must rank as one of our best wins,” Williamson said.
“It certainly was dramatic. Throughout the four days both teams were put under pressure. I think at the end of the day it was a great advertisement for Test cricket.
“The wicket was challenging and both teams had to fight hard, and certainly Pakistan had the upper hand after Day 1.”
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New Zealand lost six wickets for 30 runs and six for 29 in their two innings. Pakistan in their second innings were cruising at 130-3 before four wickets fell for the addition of eight runs as they lost their grip on the game.
“We saw the nature of the pitch and wickets fell in clumps,” added Williamson. “I’m not sure why it was challenging to start as a batsman, but if you are able to keep the pressure on who knows what might happen.
“This game was very close and you can take so many different little things if you are on the right side of the result or wrong side of the result, but at the end of the day it was a great game.
“I think the fighting attributes of this team really shone through and certainly today it’s important to build on a number of parts to go in to the next game, for sure.
“Some of the characteristics we held very dear is the attitude wherever we had to get back into the game, assigning different contributions with the bat, ball and in the field throughout these four days.
“I guess when you look back winning by such a small margin every contribution in terms of runs scored and runs saved on the field did matter.”
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New Zealand’s Test debutant Ajaz Patel played a massive role by taking 5-59, including the prized wicket of Azhar Ali, the top scorer for Pakistan with 65 and the last man out.
“My game plan is very simple, even though the scoreboard didn't look simple," said Ajaz, who returned with a match haul of 7-123 and the man of the match award. "As a unit we kept chipping away. A lot of credit goes to the environment we have, a very calm environment we have.
"In terms of the pressure on debut I think I have put in a lot of handwork, leaving the rest to Allah. It's an absolute dream come true in the end. We know Pakistan have got very good players of spin, but we kept chipping in there, and in the end, all thanks to Allah.
“I was more focussed on trying to bowl the ball in good areas for long periods."
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed said they wasted an opportunity to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
“We were in control for most parts of the match and allowed it to slip out from our hands,” he said.
“The way we started off yesterday, we felt we will get through to the target easily. But then we lost three wickets before lunch and then a collapse in the second session.
“The pitch on all four days has been the same. It was important for the set players to play on.
“Not taking a big lead in the first innings was another factor. We have given away soft wickets. Nobody played a long innings.”