Four things we learnt from New Zealand’s long-awaited Test win over Pakistan

In beating Pakistan 2-0, New Zealand chalked up their first Test series win over Pakistan in more than 30 years. Here are four things we learnt.

New Zealand's Neil Wagner bowls during day three of the second cricket Test match between New Zealand and Pakistan at Seddon Park in Hamilton on November 27, 2016. Michael Bradley / AFP
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In beating Pakistan 2-0, New Zealand chalked up their first Test series win over Pakistan in more than 30 years. Here are four things we learnt.

Roscoe’s got his eye in

Before the second Test in Hamilton, it emerged that the vision in Ross Taylor’s left eye was causing him problems. Taylor has pterygium, a growth around the eyelids that can hamper vision, but the condition has worsened recently.

That alone was not to blame for his recent lack of form – he was averaging 11.44 in Tests this year (if you take out his runs against Zimbabwe) before the Hamilton Test. Last year, he had hit 290 against Australia after taking drops to better his vision.

But given his performances in Hamilton – 37 and 102 not out – perhaps the block was in his mind and not in his vision. In both innings, on a pitch with something in it for fast bowlers, he looked far more secure and aggressive than he has for some time.

An indication of the quality is that his ton was the only one for either side in the series. He will have surgery on the eye now but given those innings, perhaps it was not hampering him unduly.

Wagner the unsung

Who you gonna call? When the wind is blowing against you? When the surface has flattened out? When the ball has become softer and older? When the batsmen are settled? Neil Wagner that is who; Neil Wagner, New Zealand’s unsung enforcer.

Tim Southee and Trent Boult get much of the fast-bowling plaudits thrown New Zealand’s way. It is understandable – they swing the ball, make it curve around beautifully and play a gazillion little tricks upon batsmen.

Wagner? He hurtles in, against the wind, older ball in hand, and bangs the ball into the surface as hard as he can, either short, or short of a length. And he does it with automated consistency for as long as you want him to do it.

He was the key, understated presence again in this series, snaring important wickets when nobody else could and roughing up Pakistan.

In the first Test he picked up a 100th Test wicket in just his 26th Test, the 2nd fastest to do so for New Zealand. Only Richard Hadlee was quicker.


It has been a bizarre old year for Pakistan. They performed far more creditably than anyone expected in England in the summer. They reached No 1 in the Test rankings. They were then unexpectedly pushed in defeating West Indies at home and have now been walloped in New Zealand.

One thread, however, ties the entire year together. Not the least of benefits of Misbah-ul-Haq’s era has been an upturn in Pakistan’s batting productivity. They have ensured stability in their order and the best batsmen have cashed in with big scores.

Yet this year that same order has had at least four dramatic collapses, which should be a cause for serious concern with Australia looming. It began with that loss in Edgbaston, when they lost six wickets in one session on the final day, costing them the Test.

In Dubai against the West Indies they lost six again on the fourth day, nearly costing them the Test. In Sharjah, on the way to defeat, they lost five in half a session on the fourth day. All of it pales into comparison with Hamilton, however, where they contrived to lose nine wickets in one session.

Babar arrives

Babar Azam broke records playing against the West Indies in the UAE last month, and the numbers involved slightly obscured the manner in which he created them – that is more impressive than the numbers themselves.

It could be argued convincingly that West Indies were not the toughest opposition he will ever face. But his unbeaten 90 in the first innings of the Hamilton Test was proof, however, of the regality of his talent.

He alone of Pakistan’s top and middle order looked like he could cope with playing conditions as alien to them as Indian pitches might seem to English batsmen currently.

He played late, he played close to the body, getting in line and, above all, he played patient, knowing that runs would come if only he hung around. With Misbah and Younis Khan close to the end, his arrival could not have come at a better time.

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