Babar Azam hits hundred to lead Pakistan’s recovery in 1st NZ Test
Skipper Babar Azam hit a brilliant century and a landmark comeback innings from Sarfaraz Ahmed to lead Pakistan’s recovery to 317-5 at stumps after New Zealand’s spinners made early inroads on the opening day of the first Test in Karachi on Monday.
Azam struck spinner Michael Bracewell for a six towards mid-wicket to complete his ninth Test century, reviving Pakistan after they were struggling on 115-4 at lunch.
Azam was unbeaten on 161, but the recalled Sarfaraz Ahmed lost his wicket late in the day, as they added 196 for the fifth-wicket partnership.
Skipper @babarazam258 does it again!
A fantastic knock to compile his 9️⃣th Test 💯 🤩#PAKvNZ | #TayyariKiwiHai pic.twitter.com/4Zy1aZX2zq
— Pakistan Cricket (@TheRealPCB) December 26, 2022
Azam also hit 11 boundaries while Ahmed — playing his first Test since January 2019 — had seven hits to the rope.
New Zealand will be ruing letting Azam off the hook when he was on just 12 after Daryl Mitchell spilt a regulation catch at slip off Bracewell.
The tourists also failed to run out Azam on 54 when Devon Conway missed the stumps with the skipper well short of his crease.
New Zealand’s spinners dominated the first session, with Bracewell dismissing Shan Masood for three and Imamul Haq for 24, while Patel took the early wicket of Abdullah Shafique for seven.
In the penultimate over before lunch, fast bowler Tim Southee dismissed Saud Shakeel for 22 to complete a successful session for the tourists, playing their first Test series in Pakistan since 2002.
New Zealand’s decision to play with three spinners appeared justified, as the National Stadium pitch took a turn right from the start. Patel came on to bowl in just the fourth over of the innings.
He turned his third ball across a forward-playing Shafique and had him stumped by wicketkeeper Tom Blundell.
Bracewell then had Masood stumped in his second over before Haq miscued a drive off him and was caught at mid-off.
This is the first time in Test cricket history that the first two dismissals in an innings were both stumped.
Pakistan, who suffered their first-ever 3-0 home whitewash to England last week, recalled Ahmed, Mir Hamza and Haq to the side.
Pakistan: Babar Azam (captain), Abdullah Shafique, Imam-ul-Haq, Shan Masood, Saud Shakeel, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Agha Salman, Abrar Ahmed, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Wasim, Nauman Ali
New Zealand: Tim Southee (captain), Michael Bracewell, Tom Blundell, Devon Conway, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Ish Sodhi, Neil Wagner, Kane Williamson
Umpires: Alex Wharf (ENG) and Aleem Dar (PAK)
Tv umpire: Ahsan Raza (PAK)
Match referee: Mohammad Javed Malik (PAK)