Debutant Ajaz Patel helps New Zealand clinch victory in a thriller first Test against Pakistan. 

New Zealand pulled off a 4-run victory against Pakistan in the first Test match with the aid of debutant Ajaz Patel’s five-wicket haul. The Blackcaps successfully defended a target of 176 runs, taking a series lead of 1-0.


“It’s all over for Pakistan! Azhar Ali is trapped in front of the stumps and New Zealand have sealed an unbelievable win by four runs!”  


The 30-year-old debutant Ajaz Patel made his international debut for New Zealand last month in a T20I match against Pakistan. He became the 13th left-arm spinner to take a T20 International wicket on debut after reaching the age of 30. Patel started off as a left-arm seamer in his teenage but made his Test debut, at 30, as a left-arm orthodox spinner. The first Test match between New Zealand and Pakistan played at Abu Dhabi was witness to three five-wicket hauls. But at the end of the day, only one of the three five-wicket hauls ended up on the winning side. 


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The 4-run victory is now New Zealand’s smallest margin of victory in terms and probably one of the most appealing ones of all time. The previous smallest margin of victory for New Zealand in Test Cricket was 7 runs. That victory had come against Australia, at Hobart in 2011. 


New Zealand’s first innings was a disaster even after winning the toss and opting to bat first. Skipper Kane Williamson top scored(63) in a total of a mere 153. Pakistan’s reply to that was a total of 227, with a major part of the runs being scored by the top 5. While Trent Boult bagged four wickets, debutant Ajaz Patel and Colin de Grandhomme bagged three each. Patel bagged his maiden Test wicket in the form of Sarfraz Ahmed.


New Zealand tried to make a comeback in their 2nd innings but only middle-order batsmen Henry Nicholls and BJ Watling managed to score the fifties. The spinner-seamer duo of Yasir Shah and Hasan Ali bagged five wickets each. New Zealand anyway managed to score a total of 249. But given to the trail from the previous innings, the target set for Pakistan was only 176. 


Pakistan staged a smooth chase and almost by lunchtime, a defeat for New Zealand had seemed inevitable. Neil Wagner though suddenly dismissed a well-settled Asad Shafiq off the last ball before lunch. That really turned things around. Azhar Ali kept losing partners to Ajaz Patel and Neil Wagner. The next we know Pakistan required another 12 runs to win with only one wicket in hand. 


The tension and drama continued for almost eight overs until finally, New Zealand found their breakthrough. Ajaz Patel had done the magic for The Blackcaps. Azhar Ali was dismissed for lbw and that fetched Ajaz Patel his maiden five-wicket haul on debut. He was also adjudged as the man of the match.


Match Scorecard:  New Zealand 153 (Williamson 63, Yasir 3-54) and 249 (Watling 59, Nicholls 55, Hasan 5-45, Yasir 5-110) beat Pakistan 227 (Babar 62, Boult 4-54) and 171 (Azhar 65, Patel 5-59) by four runs


Next match: 2nd Test – Pakistan vs New Zealand on November 24, in Dubai.

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