Williamson, Raval lead New Zealand to eight-wicket win

Kane Williamson and Jeet Raval prevailed on the fourth afternoon of the first Test at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch, steering New Zealand to a comfortable eight-wicket win on Sunday (November 20). Set a target of 105 after Pakistan were bowled out for 171, the pair shared a match-winning 85-run stand that gave them a 1-0 lead in the two-Test series.

With the early loss of Tom Latham’s wicket, New Zealand went into Lunch at 58 for 1, 47 runs short of the target with Kane Williamson (31*) and Jeet Raval (16*) at the crease. The duo resumed and the skipper brought up his half-century, which was a busy knock – one that came in just 56 balls. Raval held his end and played second fiddle aptly while the captain steered the ship to perfection. However, with one run shy of a victory, he top-edged Azhar Ali to Asad Shafiq for 61 off 77.

Fittingly, Raval, unbeaten on 36, whose first-innings knock of 55 was crucial in the context of the game, ended the game with a boundary as New Zealand scaled the target with more than four sessions to spare in the game reaching 108 for 2.

Earlier, Sohail Khan came out with the intent of scoring quick runs as Pakistan led by 62 with only three wickets in hand. Sohail, along with Shafiq shared a 50-plus run-stand for the eighth wicket, with those runs so vital that it took Pakistan’s lead over the 100-run mark. However, Pakistan managed to add only 42 runs in the morning before being bowled out.

Latham and Raval made a steady start to the chase, without too many risks up front. Although the scoring rate was low, the duo battled out the first few overs. Mohammad Amir was warned by the umpire in the seventh over for bowling three short balls in an over, but he came back in the next to account for opener Latham, who had a double failure in the Test after being dismissed for 1 in the first innings an 9 in the next. A short ball from Amir surprised the opener whose prod flew to gully where Shafiq pouched it safely.

The pitch seemed to have flattened out with little in it for the bowlers which was evident as the session progressed, as New Zealand’s confidence upped and eventually transcended into an increase in their run rate as well. Williamson was as busy as a bee and kept the runs trickling.

Sohail resumed his innings on the fourth day on 22, while Shafiq was on 6 with Pakistan at 129 for 7. The paceman, who came in to bat at No.9, kicked off proceedings with a boundary off Trent Boult. The intent of the Pakistani batsmen was clear as they accumulated 23 runs off the first four overs, which was almost half of what they did in an entire session on day three. Sohail belted his way to a 39-ball 40 before he fell prey to the short-ball ploy of the New Zealanders. Neil Wagner bowled in one short, and Sohail obliged, pulling into the hands of backward square leg, where Colin de Grandhomme, picked out a good catch.

Shafiq and Rahat Ali fell in the span of four overs of each other as Southee ended with three wickets to his name as did Boult and Wagner.

The second and final Test will begin on November 25 in Hamilton.

Brief scores: Pakistan 133 & 171 (Sohail Khan 40; Trent Boult 3-37, Tim Southee 3-53, Neil Wagner 3-34) lost to New Zealand 200 & 108/2 (Kane Williamson 61, Jeet Raval 36*) by eight wickets.

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