Mohammad Hafeez guided Pakistan to a decent start with a score of 47 from 67 balls © AFP (File Photo)
Mohammad Hafeez guided Pakistan to a decent start with a score of 47 from 67 balls © AFP (File Photo)

Nov 26, 2014

Pakistan finished at a score of 82 for the loss of one wicket after 29 overs at the end of Lunch on Day 1 of the third and final Test against New Zealand at Sharjah on Wednesday. Mohammad Hafeez and Azhar Ali were unbeaten on scores of 47 and 20 respectively, with the former closing on his 11th Test half-century. Mark Craig was the only wicket-taker for New Zealand in the first session, taking the wicket of Shan Masood, and finishing the session with figures of one for 18 after four overs.

Pakistan earlier won the toss, their second such success in the current series, and elected to bat. Hafeez was brought in place of a struggling Taufeeq Umar, while Ehsan Adil was replaced by Mohammad Talha. New Zealand made the only change of bringing veteran spinner Daniel Vettori in place of James Neesham.

New Zealand gave a guard-of-honour for Daniel Vettori at the start of the Pakistan innings. Vettori was back in the Test squad after a gap of nearly two-and-a-half years. having played his last Test against West Indies in the summer of 2012. Vettori also became the most capped New Zealand Test cricketer, surpassing former New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming‘s 111 appearances in the longest format of the game. Vettori also became the player with the second-longest career span for New Zealand, with 17 years and 293 days.

The first ball of the match was smashed for a boundary off Hafeez’s bat, which he repeated off the very next over as well. The bowling was handled initially by Trent Boult and Tim Southee, before Vettori was brought in to the attack in the 10th over, replacing Southee in the process. Hafeez did not get into the emotions of Vettori’s return, smashing the veteran for a six at the end of the 12th over. The opening partnership could not reach the 50-run mark, as Shan Masood was dismissed off the bowling of Mark Craig in the 17th over, with 44 runs on the board.

Next to arrive at the crease was Azhar Ali, who has been in a remarkable form in the current series, as well as the recently-concluded series against Australia. Ali started off on a slow note, the next few overs fetching two-to-three runs each. Ali finally started to open up towards the end of the session, hitting the second six of the match and racing to the 20s in no time. With the side getting off to a decent start, it remains to be seen if Pakistan can utilise this position to head to a big total.

Brief scores:

Pakistan 82 for 1 (Mohammad Hafeez 47*; Mark Craig 1 for 18) vs New Zealand.

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