Pakistan got saved off their fifth consecutive defeat at home with a hard-fought draw in the first Test against New Zealand at the National Stadium in Karachi on Friday. Leg-spinner Ish Sodhi registered his career-best bowling figures (6-86) and threatened to give Pakistan a defeat in the first two sessions on the fifth and final day. But Saud Shakeel, who scored an unbeaten 55, and Mohammad Wasim (43) defied for 75 minutes and 111 balls during their 71-run eighth-wicket partnership to deprive New Zealand of a win.
The hosts’ fought brilliantly after the Tea break and declared their second innings on 311-8.
Chasing a tough target of 138 to win in 15 overs, New Zealand finished on 61-1 with Tom Latham unbeaten on 35 and Devon Conway on 18. The encounter ended in a draw after bad light stopped play in the final session of Day 5 in Karachi.
After the draw, former Black Caps skipper Kane Williamson, who was adjudged ‘Player of the Match’ for his brilliant 200 not out in New Zealand’s first innings, said that he was astounded by Pakistan captain Babar Azam’s decision to declare their innings with just an hour left to be played in the first Test.
“Saud Shakeel steered Pakistan safe when a defeat could have been on the cards, as Ish Sodhi ended with career best figures of 6/86. Then came the biggest surprise, as Babar declared with an hour to play and dangled the carrot for the Kiwis. A gutsy, creditable declaration to keep the crowds entertained, and Latham and Conway did entertain by going into T20 mode. However, bad light played spoilsport and after just 7.3 overs of the final innings, we had to call it a draw,” said Williamson in the post-match interview.
The second and final Test will be played at the same venue from January 2.