First Test


Toss: Pakistan.

The match set the pattern for the series: classy pace bowling was made to look even better by undisciplined batting on a poor pitch, of erratic and spasmodically excessive bounce. Wasim Akram took nine for 93 and Waqar Younis six for 81 - passing 200 and 150 Test wickets respectively - and Doull, who achieved pronounced swing without their pace, seven for 114, easily his best figures in four Tests.

Salim Malik, in his first Test as captain, inserted New Zealand. Though Wasim despatched Pocock immediately, there was little hint that 14 wickets would fall that day when New Zealand took lunch at 67 for one. On resuming, Young was caught behind, the second of Rashid Latif's nine victims, a Pakistan Test record. But Jones played the biggest and most mature innings of the match for New Zealand, looking orthodox and confident. Briefly, he had the support of Greatbatch, who made 48 from 34 deliveries, punishing Mushtaq Ahmed heavily before misreading his googly: instead of reaching New Zealand's fastest Test 50, he offered a high outside edge to Malik, running back at cover. That was the fourth wicket, at 170, and Jones followed five runs later, caught behind off the same bowler. It was Mushtaq's last significant contribution to the series before returning home with back trouble. The middle and lower order then subsided.

Pakistan looked no more secure, however, losing their first four for 50 on first evening. That became 93 for six before some effective aggression from Inzamam-ul-Haq, whose dynamic innings beat New Zealand on this ground in the World Cup semi-final two years before. They were well served, too, by their tail. De Groen used his height well in extracting help from the pitch and shared the honours with Doull. Still, Pakistan's deficit was only 27.

New Zealand's second innings looked like a one-day effort, and the overs were indeed limited - just 32.1, Wasim bowled throughout for his best analysis in Tests. New Zealand were 44 for six before Cairns and Doull thrashed around to take them into three figures. Thirty wickets had fallen during the first two days.

As Pakistan set out to score 138, Saeed Anwar and Asif Mujtaba went cheaply. But the decisive innings of a low-scoring match was played by Aamir Sohail, who showed good judgment of when to play attacking stokes as he hit ten fours and a six. New Zealand lost their last realistic chance of bowling out Pakistan when Blain dropped an under edge just before lunch. Greatbatch had also dropped Sohail, in the slips, not the best position for his fielding talents. It was Young, a former wicket-keeper better suited to close fielding, who finally held the ball, stomach-high, when Sohail forced it hard at short leg; it was Young's sixth catch in the match, a New Zealand Test record. By then it was far too late: Latif completed Pakistan's five-wicket win with a six to mid-wicket not long after lunch. Just over half the available playing time remained.

Man of the Match: Wasim Akram.

Close of play: First day, Pakistan 61-4 (Salim Malik 5*, Basit Ali 8*); Second day, Pakistan 3-0 (Saeed Anwar 1*, Aamir Sohail 1*).

© John Wisden & Co