Pakistan stubbornly ground out a draw in the second Test against New Zealand at the Basin Reserve to secure their first series win in over four years.
Captain Misbahul Haq produced a man-of-the-match performance with an unbeaten 70 off 226 balls to frustrate the New Zealand attack and ensure Pakistan reached stumps at 226 for five after being set a target of 274.
The draw followed Pakistan’s crushing 10-wicket victory in the first Test at Hamilton and gave the tourists a 1-0 series win, their first since overcoming the West Indies 2-0 in December 2006.
It also maintained Pakistan’s record of never losing a Test match at Wellington’s Basin Reserve.
Misbah said his side went into the final day happy to hang on for the draw and claim the series.
“In the end, I think the series was important for us, rather than just this game,” said Misbah.
“Everybody supported each other and really performed well.” New Zealand’s hopes of bowling Pakistan out on the final day were raised when three wickets fell in the first hour as Chris Martin and Tim Southee made the most of the new ball.
Southee trapped Taufeeq Umar lbw for a first ball duck in the second over, with Martin dismissing Azhar Ali (10) lbw nine overs later.
Mohammad Hafeez (32) went in the next over after edging Martin to the slip cordon, leaving Pakistan struggling at 42 for three.
The wickets brought Younus Khan and Misbah to the crease and the veteran pair defied pressure from the desperate New Zealanders to steady the innings.
In a repeat of the 142-run pairing that formed the backbone of Pakistan’s first-innings, Misbah and Khan dropped anchor to deliver a 118-run partnership lasting almost three hours.
Khan’s dismissal for 81 on the last ball before tea energised New Zealand but Misbah remained immovable, combining with Asad Shafiq to graft out his sixth consecutive Test half century. Daniel Vettori’s probing spin eventually claimed Asad Shafiq for 24 but with just eight overs to go it was a consolation wicket for the Black Caps’ captain, who finished with figures of one for 57 off 34 overs.
Martin was also left to rue missed opportunities as he finished the match on 199 Test wickets, forcing him to wait until a series in Bangladesh tentatively scheduled for May for the chance to reach his double century.
The series loss meant New Zealand ended its summer season without a Test victory for the first time in 15 years.
Vettori said that the loss in the first Test left New Zealand chasing the match in Wellington to try to level the series.
“The way Pakistan played in Hamilton meant that we had to play catch-up this whole Test and unfortunately we couldn’t quite do it at the end,” said Vettori.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 20th, 2011.