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New Zealand did themselves unexpectedly proud in Pakistan, sharing the honours in a two-match Test series. Their victory in the First Test at Lahore was their first on a tour of Pakistan in 27 years - the only previous one had been in 1969-70, at the same venue, when Graham Dowling led them to a series win. This time, a jolted Pakistan recovered to take the Second Test, at Rawalpindi, by an innings. But New Zealand ended the short visit - it lasted just over three weeks - with another win, in the third one-day international, having lost the first two. Captain Lee Germon called it "a good tour" and said "the boys have done well and are richer in experience".
They might have done even better but for a growing casualty list. Injury had already forced some changes from the squad that had just played a one-day tournament in Sharjah, and strike bowler Danny Morrison (groin strain) and all-rounder Gavin Larsen (hamstring strain) had to be replaced before the First Test. Even the tour manager, Earle Cooper, flew home, because of a detached retina in his right eye; Tim Murdoch, general manager of New Zealand Cricket, took over.
Pakistan also had their problems. Captain Wasim Akram had to withdraw from the Test series with a shoulder injury which he had carried through the Sharjah tournament and Waqar Younis pulled out of the Second Test with a side strain. But their understudy, the 20-year-old Mohammad Zahid, stepped up to make a sensational debut. He had taken eight New Zealand wickets for a Board XI in a warm-up match at Sahiwal but easily outdid that with 11 for 130 at Rawalpindi. He was the first Pakistani bowler to take ten wickets or more on Test debut. Another talented newcomer, Mohammad Wasim, almost pulled off an unlikely win at Lahore as he scored an unbeaten century, joining Billy Ibadulla, Javed Miandad and Salim Malik as the only Pakistanis to reach three figures on debut. Of the old hands, leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed continued his rich vein of form by collecting 18 wickets in the two Tests, and Saeed Anwar and Ijaz Ahmed delighted spectators at Rawalpindi with their strokeplay in a stand of 262.
New Zealand's leading bowler was Simon Doull, who kept his cool when a local paper accused him of ball-tampering at Sahiwal, and bowled with great accuracy on a seaming wicket in the First Test to claim a match-winning eight for 85. On the batting front, Stephen Fleming displayed his consistency in innings of 92 not out and 67, though he was still waiting for his maiden Test hundred, all-rounder Chris Cairns provided some fireworks in a rapid 93 to turn round New Zealand's second innings at Lahore.
The series was played in a cordial atmosphere, though there were 28 leg before decisions in seven Test innings and Ijaz and Cairns were fined for dissent during the Second Test. Pakistan were also penalised for their slow over-rate in the same match. But both Tests finished inside four days, despite interruptions caused by bad light, dazzling sunshine and, most unusually, the failure of the authorities to produce a match ball at Rawalpindi.
L. K. Germon (Canterbury) (captain), N. J. Astle (Canterbury), C. L. Cairns (Canterbury), S. B. Doull (Northern Districts), S. P. Fleming (Canterbury), M. J. Greatbatch (Central Districts), C. Z. Harris (Canterbury), M. N. Hart (Northern Districts), G. R. Larsen (Wellington), D. K. Morrison (Auckland), A. C. Parore (Auckland), D. N. Patel (Auckland), C. M. Spearman (Central Districts), J. T. C. Vaughan (Auckland), B. A. Young (Northern Districts).
Manager: L. E. Cooper. Coach: S. J. Rixon.
G. R. Jonas (Wellington) and R. J. Kennedy (Otago) replaced the injured Larsen and Morrison. T. J. Murdoch replaced Cooper, who had suffered a detached retina, as manager.
Test Matches - Played 2: Won 1, Lost 1.
First-class matches - Played 3: Won 1, Lost 1, Drawn 1.
Win - Pakistan.
Loss - Pakistan.
Draw - PCB XI.
One-day internationals - Played 3: Won 1, Lost 1.
Match reports for
1st ODI: Pakistan v New Zealand at Gujranwala, Dec 4, 1996