Mohammad Hafeez to retire from Test cricket after series against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi
Pakistan batsman fell without scoring as Black Caps BJ Watling celebrates milestone 3,000 runs
With the game evenly placed on Day 2 of the deciding Test match between Pakistan and New Zealand, the highlights of the day were the announcement that Mohammad Hafeez will retire from Test cricket at the end of this series and BJ Watling’s milestone 3,000 Test runs.
Pakistan opener Hafeez said following the day's play that the third and final Test here in Abu Dhabi will be his last in red-ball cricket.
The Pakistan fell without scoring in the first innings, the first of New Zealand quick Trent Boult's two early victims.
New Zealand wicketkeeper batsman Watling on the other hand produced a superb knock of 77 not out to become the 14th Black Caps batsman to cross 3,000 Test runs.
Watling occupied the crease for more than five and-a-half hours to see his team post a challenging first innings score of 274 after resuming from their overnight 229-7 at Zayed Cricket Stadium on Tuesday.
Playing in his 56th Test Watling had a tough day as he took up his post behind the stumps after batting until the end of the New Zealand innings.
“It’s been tough to score runs as it has been pretty slow and cracks in the surface starting to appear,” he said.
“The quicks have some variable bounce to play with which will make things interesting. Tough to score runs, generate a strike rate. I thought we asked some really good questions with the ball.
“We’re yet to see whether it is a good score. But we are two-three wickets away from putting them under a lot of pressure. It’s hard to judge our score based on the fact that they haven’t batted a full innings yet. Tomorrow will be a telling factor.”
Watling was “fairly happy” with the day and believed they had kept Pakistan under control.
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“They’re still 150 runs behind us,” he said. “There’s a long way to go ahead of us. We’ve managed to prolong the game – it’s now going to be Day 3, 4 and 5.
“We know it can be slow going for the first couple of days here. A lot happens on Day 4 and 5. We are here to play the long game, so we’ll put some pressure on them tomorrow and see where the game leads.”
Hafeez said he had been thinking about retiring from the Test arena for the past few weeks and that it was a tough decision after 15 years as an international.
“I thought this is the best time for me to exit from Test cricket and put all my time behind white ball cricket,” he said at the post-match conference.
“I think I can offer more to Pakistan cricket that way moving forward. This is my own decision and I have conveyed it to the Pakistan team management, board and teammates.
“However, I had to keep it under wraps because I wanted to announce it only tonight.”
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Hafeez has struggled at the top of the order in recent times. The 38 year old has managed just 66 runs in seven innings since scoring a hundred against Australia in Dubai in October following his recall to five-day cricket.
“It has been an incredible journey for me and I have seen lot of great players,” said Hafeez, playing in his 55th Test since making his debut against Bangladesh in Karachi in 2003.
He has so far scored 3,644 runs with 10 hundreds and 12 half centuries.
“It was great to have played with some of the biggest names in world cricket and the experience was remarkable.
“Obviously it plays an important role in making a complete player. All the format of cricket is beautiful but Test cricket makes sure you become a good human being.
“I would like to thank my parents who supported me a lot to make sure I become a cricketer. They were with me at every step and were with me in my thick and thin.
“I hope Pakistan will continue to do well in Test cricket and will maintain its dignity and pride.”
Pakistan recovered from an early Boult strike that left them two down for just 17 runs before posting 139-3 at close of play, still 135 runs behind the Black Caps.
Updated: December 4, 2018 07:59 PM