New Zealand coach Gary Stead lauds Ajaz Patel, Neil Wagner temperament
Ajaz Patel bowled a spell of 10.4-1-19-4 as Pakistan folded after lunch on day four. @AFP

New Zealand coach Gary Stead has praised the rookie international spinner Ajaz Patel, who bowled the visiting team to an unbelievable four-win win over Pakistan in the first Test in Abu Dhabi this week, for his calmness under immense pressure.

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Mumbai-born Patel, 30, has six years of first-class cricket behind him for Central Districts and has been his team’s leading wicket-take since then with 194 wickets at 29.82 apiece. He broke into the New Zealand team last month, making his T20I debut against Pakistan. Picked ahead of fellow uncapped journeyman Will Somerville for the first Test, Patel starred with 5/59 on the fourth day as New Zealand defended a target of 176 by four runs – their narrowest Test win of all time.

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The left-arm spinner followed two wickets in Pakistan’s first innings by starting the slide with the scalp of Imam-ul-Haq in a period where New Zealand grabbed three wickets in eight balls before lunch. Post lunch, Patel dismissed Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed, Bilal Asif, Hasan Ali and Azhar Ali – apart from having a hand in a run out – as the home team fell in a heap.

Patel was named Man of the Match on Test debut, which Stead – for whom this was his first Test as coach – said underlined his unflappability.

“This is my first tour away with Ajaz, he’s got some experience on his side and I think that has really helped him,” Stead said. “He is very calm under pressure and that isn’t easy during your first Test match but he has that maturity that has really helped him.”

The left-arm quick Neil Wagner was also a leading figure for New Zealand on day four as he bowled 13 successive overs either side of the lunch break for the wickets of Asad Shafiq and Yasir Shah, which Stead termed as “phenomenal”.

“Neil’s lion-hearted effort, he is just renowned for that and he did again for us in this Test,” said the former New Zealand opener. “The bowling partnership there was phenomenal, bowling 22-23 overs in a row was a sterling effort and I am really proud of the way they went.”

Stead’s opposite number Mickey Arthur termed the Abu Dhabi loss as the worst of his career.

The second Test between New Zealand and Pakistan starts November 23 in Dubai.