Black Caps thrash Pakistan to square the Test Series
New Zealand achieved a commendable victory over Pakistan in the 3rd and final Test of the National Bank Series, which finished at Hamilton on Friday. The two teams will remember the encounter for all times to come, the Black Caps for a glorious victory and some of the records they achieved and Pakistan for a concentrated dose of humiliation they suffered during an unexpectedly short span of time. Pakistan's unpredictable batting line crumbled twice in the game that ended well before closing time on the 4th day. Taking out the time consumed by rain, the actual play did not extend more than two and a half days, something unusual for a test match, especially one producing a result on the 4th day!
New Zealand squared up the series with a glorious victory over Pakistan by an innings and 185 runs. It was their highest winning margin of victory achieved in a test, the previous being an innings and 132 runs against England in 1983-84. With a thrilling and highly stimulating performance, they very gracefully took sweet revenge for a similar defeat they suffered in the 1st Test at Auckland, with the difference, the game there lasted the full length. With the One-day series already clinched and the Test series drawn, the Black Caps emerged as the proud winners. It was a result that Pakistan could not have imagined.
This was perhaps the encounter that `cricket' chose to prove its glorious uncertainties. Pakistan's batting line up blended with youth and experience flopped in the first innings on a pitch that had no demons in it. It had a little extra pace and bounce that all cricketers playing at international level are expected to negotiate. Getting out for a meagre 104 runs was enough to indicate a disaster in the offing.
This was followed by the second failure, the ineffectiveness of Pakistan's much heralded bowling that virtually made no impact on the New Zealand batsmen. What magic? The pitch that helped New Zealand bowlers to destroy Pakistan seemed to lose its grit and energy and provide similar support to the Pakistani's. Was this perhaps the reason the curator was showered with all the praise at the end of the match?
Believing in this theory would be mere fantasy! It was in fact the stark inability of the Pakistani bowlers to penetrate through the Black Caps batting. There was a general belief that a rain-affected track helps the bowlers. Surprisingly the rain fell amidst New Zealand's batting and against all expectations the surface invigorated the batsmen rather than lending any support to the bowlers.
With a remarkable flourish the Black Caps carried their innings to 407 for 4 with the two openers, Matthew Bell (105) and Mark Richardson (106) scoring centuries plus Craig McMillan missing a well deserved ton when he was smartly caught by Waqar Younis off Fazl-e-Akbar for a scintillating 98 scored in 97 balls. In the process he had, however, created a world record by clinching 26 runs, 5 fours and a six in one over bowled by Younis Khan.
Pakistan faced a deficit of 303 runs with more than a day and a half at their disposal, not to win but to save themselves from an innings defeat. Considering their performance in the 1st innings and some sort of a psychological dilemma that the team was in, it was an arduous task, beyond their power to accomplish. They started the innings carelessly and ended it as such. With a visible lack of fighting spirit, the batsmen threw away their wickets.
As indicated in my previous article, the players showed complete inability to face the moving ball. Except for Inzamam (20) who was out on a sensational catch taken by Daryl Tuffey at square leg and a couple of others, seven Pakistani batsmen offered catches to the wicket keeper or fielders in the slips and gully. This is a serious flaw in Pakistan's batting which needs immediate attention by the coach and Board.
Pakistan was all out for 118 runs in the 2nd innings providing New Zealand a well deserved and glorious victory by an innings and 185 runs. Rookie wicket keeper Humayun Farhat was the highest scorer with 26 runs. Even stalwarts like Ijaz Ahmed, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Yousuf Youhana failed to prove their mettle just when it was required most.
Though Pakistan failed to put up the required amount of resistance, the Black Caps deserve all the credit for such a remarkable victory. Franklin 4 for 26 and Tuffey 3 for 36 gave a quality exhibition of pace bowling. Their enthusiasm and the spirit to fight were remarkable. Let us hope that Pakistan learns from the defeat. The players' attitude to the game and some serious management problems need a serious thought.