Pakistan vs New Zealand: Winning skipper Kane Williamson hails ‘outstanding attitude’
New Zealand beat Pakistan by four runs on Friday. @AFP

A win on his team s return to Test cricket after more than seven months has left New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson an elated man, and one fully aware of his team s struggles as they seized a four-run win over Pakistan on day four of the first Test in Abu Dhabi.

From an overnight 37 without loss, Pakistan were bowled out for 171 to fall four runs short of their target with the debutant left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel taking 5/59 to be named Man of the Match.

New Zealand are ranked fourth in Tests, three spots above Pakistan at seventh, but last played a Test in March, when the beat England 1-0 at home. More tellingly, this is New Zealand s first away Test series since 2016. Switching back to Test cricket after more than seven months, as well as coping with the conditions and challenges of playing spin and the guile of pace bowler Mohammad Abbas, left Williamson a please captain after his country s narrowest win ever.

A superb fighting effort, said Williamson on Friday. The surface wasn’t the easiest, it required a real scrappy performance and we saw it from both sides right throughout the match. The pitch offered good turn on day one and all the spinners did a fantastic job. A great advertisement for Test cricket, it went on only for three days but went all the way to the wire.

The narrow win came after New Zealand s batsmen underwhelmed in Abu Dhabi. Williamson was one of just three batsmen to manage half-centuries – BJ Watling and Henry Nicholls did so in the second innings – and conceding wickets in clusters was a problem in both innings. New Zealand backed the debutant Patel as the second spinner while benching Tim Southee, and did not bowl Trent Boult for more than seven overs in Pakistan s second innings.

We’ll sit down and review our performance, we need to go back and work on areas, said Williamson. But then it is a fantastic game to be a part of and nice to be on the winning side. Pakistan are a superb team and it was a great spectacle for all those out there watching. The attitude throughout the game was outstanding and the guys stayed in the contest for a long period. We saw through the game that wickets fell in clumps and that was reflective of the way the game ended.

Ajaz Patel crippled Pakistan with four wickets after tea.
Ajaz Patel crippled Pakistan with four wickets after tea. @AFP

He had special mention for Ajaz, who stunned Pakistan with a second spell of 4/19 in 10.1 overs after lunch on Friday, and left-arm quick Neil Wagner who bowled 13 successive overs either side of the break for the wickets of Asad Shafiq and Yasir Shah.

Those two bowlers were fantastic, they just kept bowling for 20 overs or something, he said. It is nice to get these performances in and feels very rewarding. There are so many small margins whether you have a win or a loss and we need to look at them, which is something you don’t do when you are on the right side. But this fighting spirit is what we would want to hold on to and take it through the rest of the series.