At Abu Dhabi, November 9-13, 2014. Pakistan won by 248 runs. Toss: Pakistan.
Misbah-ul-Haq won the toss, uttered "we'll bat", and galloped to the shade of the dressing-room, leaving New Zealand to endure nigh on two days of desert sun, a prematurely scuffed ball, and batsmen with a reliable GPS as to the whereabouts of their off stump. The only respite during Pakistan's ascent to 566 for three was a westerly zephyr to wick away sweat.
An opening stand of 178 between Mohammad Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzad was Pakistan's second-highest in the first innings of a Test, after 249 by Abdul Kadir and Khalid Ibadulla against Australia at Karachi in 1964-65. The rest joined in: this was the first time a Test team's top five had each passed 80.
The bowlers weren't particularly at fault: the run-rate was 3.31, and there were only five extras. Southee and Boult pitched it up to make the best of the new ball, but the entry of both spinners by the 11th over said everything about the pitch. Craig and Sodhi bowled with good flight, but Pakistan countered them well. New Zealand's first and only review of the innings (for an lbw) came at 508 for three, in the 159th over; it was unsuccessful.
McCullum attacked as best he could, never relinquishing a slip cordon or close-in catchers; he even brought himself on to bowl some medium-pace for only the second time in Tests. New Zealand's fielding, though, was substandard. Watling failed to stump Shehzad, on 16, off Craig. At 422 for three, Sodhi coaxed Misbah, on 17, into a slog-sweep, but Craig grasped air in front of point. In Sodhi's next over, Neesham splattered an even simpler chance off Misbah, who cruised to a third successive hundred, after two in his previous Test (also on this ground), against Australia.
Shehzad's eventual dismissal was unusual and traumatic: Anderson had him hit wicket with a bouncer which he shaped to pull. His helmet took the brunt, and his bat fell on the stumps. The diagnosis was a minor skull fracture: having made his third century, in his eighth Test, Shehzad played no further part in the series, and discovered how close he might have come to a nastier fate. "Phillip Hughes was hit in the area between the head and neck," he said. "I, luckily, got hit on the cheekbone. The doctor told me an inch here or there and it could have been much more serious."
Apart from Tom Latham's maiden Test century, and Sodhi's 63 from No. 10 in the second innings, no New Zealander passed 48, as they floundered against spin and reverse swing. Assessing turn, bounce, skid and drift after just one warm-up innings proved problematic. Spinners Zulfiqar Babar, Yasir Shah and Hafeez collected 11 wickets, chiefly by zeroing in on a good length. The batsmen preferred to go back rather than forward, allowing them more time to play, but increasing their vulnerability to arm-balls and sliders.
The cacophony of chirping around the bat must have felt like being in an aviary from which there was no escape - other than by forcing the pace or getting out. Silly point, slip, leg slip and short leg formed a shrill Babar-shop quartet. All the while, Rahat Ali, an unpredictable left-arm seamer, was finding good bounce, and had match figures of six for 70.
Latham's century made him and Rod the third New Zealand father-and-son combination to score Test centuries, alongside Walter and Richard Hadlee, and Ken and Hamish Rutherford. Latham, at 22 years 221 days, was the third-youngest opener to make a hundred for New Zealand, after Bruce Edgar and Glenn Turner (both against Pakistan). There was a short interlude as Pakistan topped up their lead with 175 for two by the fourth afternoon, taking their match aggregate to 741 for five. After Hafeez slammed a hundred, Misbah declared for the fifth innings in succession. Their only downside came
when Hafeez, who had made 197 for once out, was reported for a suspected illegal bowling action, which would force him to miss the next Test to undergo assessment in England.
Man of the Match: Rahat Ali.