Ahmed Shehzad scored his third Test ton © Getty Images
Ahmed Shehzad scored his third Test ton © Getty Images

By Shiamak Unwalla

Nov 9, 2014

Mohammad Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzad  led Pakistan to a commanding score of 269 for one against New Zealand at Stumps on Day One of the first Test at Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

After a productive second session where the Pakistani batsmen slaughtered the Kiwi spinners. Shehzad and Azhar Ali clamped down in the face of some tight seam bowing. The highlight of the session was perhaps Brendon McCullum bowling some medium-slow wobblers that the Pakistani batsmen found hard to score off easily.

Ahmed Shehzad scored his third Test ton — and two in two games — to put Pakistan firmly in command at the end of the day. Shehzad overcame an agonisingly slow start to score boundaries at will in the second session. He came out of his shell in belligerent fashion, taking the New Zealand spinners Mark Craig and Ish Sodhi apart, sweeping ferociously when they over-pitched, and cutting and pulling if they ventured too short.

Hafeez too managed to keep the runs coming at a fair clip. He was finally the first man to be dismissed, caught and bowled by Corey Anderson for an attractive 96. Hafeez’s innings came at the ideal time for the opener, as his place in the side was under some scrutiny following his failures in the series against Australia. Shehzad didn’t let his partner’s dismissal affect him, as he continued going hard at the bowling.

Pakistan were in control at 85 without loss at Lunch. Shehzad was unbeaten on 40, while Hafeez was 45 not out. Trent Boult and Tim Southee opened the bowling for New Zealand, with Hafeez and Shehzad taking strike for the hosts. Pakistan seemed to invoke their spirit from the first Test of the Australian series, going at a snail’s pace for the first few overs. They scored just about 20 in the first 10 overs.

Boult and Southee kept things very tight, but for their part the Pakistani batsmen seemed quite happy to just leave or defend the balls. Spinners Sodhi and Craig started off well, causing a few problems to the batsmen. Sodhi got a huge LBW appeal turned down as the ball had pitched outside leg stump, while Craig got Shehzad stranded halfway down the track only for wicketkeeper BJ Watling to snuff the stumping chance.

After labouring to 44 for no loss in 20 overs, Shehzad opened up, hitting three boundaries including two in a row off Corey Anderson. The pair started raising their scoring rate and eventually scored 41 runs in the last 11 overs before lunch. Both men looked comfortable and seem set on getting a big partnership. Hafeez in particular will want to score a few runs after coming under fire for being in poor form against Australia.

Earlier, Pakistan won the toss and decided to bat first with the same side that defeated Australia in the last Test. New Zealand chose to go in with all-rounders James Neesham and Corey Anderson, with Brendon McCullum pushed up to open the innings. Ish Sodhi and Mark Craig were in the side as well.

Brief scores:

Pakistan 269 for 1 (Mohammad Hafeez 96, Ahmed Shehzad 126*, Azhar Ali 46*; Corey Anderson 1 for 31) vs New Zealand.

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(Shiamak Unwalla, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic. You can follow him on Twitter @ShiamakUnwalla)