Ajaz dismisses Sarfraz Ahmed and Bilal Asif as New Zealand end Day 2 on 56-1 trailing by 18 runs
Ajaz Patel revels in 'special moment' after claiming first Test wicket as New Zealand peg back Pakistan in Abu Dhabi
Test debutant Ajaz Patel claimed the wicket of Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed as New Zealand bowled out their hosts for 227 at the end of Day 2 of the first Test in Abu Dhabi.
The Black Caps were 56-1 when stumps were drawn with 4.2 overs left due to poor light at Zayed Cricket Stadium on Saturday.
New Zealand lost opener Tom Latham without a score on the board but Jeet Raval (26) and Kane Williamson (27) cut Pakistan’s lead to 18 with nine wickets in hand.
“We did some hard work today. We finished off the day quite well, I felt,” said Ajaz after New Zealand were bundled out for 153 in their first innings.
“The match is evenly placed at the moment but we still need to do some good batting and see what kind of position we can be at the end of the day’s play tomorrow.”
Ajaz claimed his first Test wicket when Sarfraz top-edged a sweep and was caught by Neil Wagner at backward square leg.
“It’s quite special taking the first Test wicket,” said the left-arm spinner who returned with 2-64 from 24 overs.
“At that time, I think I was kind of still amazed at that achievement. That one wicket was something that I have been working a whole lot for. It was quite a special moment.”
Ajaz could well be celebrating a few more wickets in conditions looking favourable to spinners.
“As a spinner you love the challenge to bowl on the last day, especially on turning wickets, like we have here,” he said.
“These conditions are obviously conducive for spin bowling and we have seen that across the last two days. It will be interesting to see how many days it needs to break up and see where it gets to in the last inning.”
Pakistan’s overnight pair Azhar Ali (22) and Haris Sohail (38) added 64 for the third wicket and Asad Shafiq and Babar starred in an 83-run stand for the fifth wicket.
Ish Sodhi provided the breakthrough for New Zealand. The leg-spinner had Sohail playing at a full toss to the hands of Latham at short mid-wicket and Trent Boult struck in the very next over to dismiss Azhar to a one-handed diving catch by Bradley-John Watling as Pakistan slipped from 91-2 to 91-4.
Boult later ended the fifth-wicket partnership of Babar and Asad, getting the latter to chop one back on to his off stump.
It turned out to be a double strike as Ajaz picked up his maiden Test wicket with Sarfraz's dismissal. He then claimed his second when he lured Bilal Asif for Watling to catch him short of his crease to leave Pakistan 195-7. Wagner, Colin de Grandhomme and Boult grabbed the remaining wickets.
Babar, who has has been excellent in the UAE having also played a pivotal role in the series win over Australia that preceded New Zealand's arrival, top-scored for Pakistan with 62 and was last out after coming in at No 6.
“I was asking the lower order batsmen not to hurry when I was playing with them but unfortunately they got out,” said Babar, who hit five boundaries.
“I thought I could reach a century had there been support from other end. Now we have to go out and get wickets early in the first session tomorrow.”