Rearguard innings from skipper Mohammad Rizwan (71) and all-rounder Faheem Ashraf (91) helped Pakistan avoid follow on and embarrassment after the two shared a 107-run partnership for the seventh wicket on the third day of the first Test against New Zealand here on Monday.
The visitors were all out for 239 in their first innings just before stumps, 192 runs behind New Zealand’s 431.
Pakistan were struggling at 80 for six at one point in time and looked set to follow on before Rizwan and Ashraf counter-attacked to stitch the crucial partnership.
Rizwan, the wicketkeeper-batsman, hit eight fours in his 71-run 142-ball innings while Ashraf made 91 off 134 balls with 15 fours and a six.
The duo batted aggressively going after the New Zealand pace attack after the nervous and edgy top-order couldn’t find ways to score.
On a poor day for the Pakistan batsmen across in Mount Maunganui, the two bright spots were Mohammad Rizwan and Faheem Ashraf, who hit 71 and 91 respectively, and added 107 for the seventh wicket, to help their team just about avoid following on. Batting coach Younis Khan was understandably unhappy, and pointed to the batsmen not sticking to a “simple plan” to build partnerships, and asked them to learn from Kane Williamson, the opposition captain.
“It was a simple plan to take time and shift to the next gear accordingly, but we lost back-to-back wickets and didn’t get the momentum we wanted,” Khan said after the third day’s play, which ended with New Zealand 192 ahead after the first-innings exchanges. “In the end, we had that partnership around 100-plus runs, but then a good piece of fielding from New Zealand broke the momentum [Rizwan was dismissed] and we were back where we started.
“I think as a young unit we have to learn that it’s all about partnerships. You sometimes learn from the opposition as well, the way New Zealand picked up after losing two wickets on day one and how the captain took the responsibility and anchored two to three partnerships. That is where we lost it.”
After New Zealand had scored 431, Pakistan quickly slipped to 80 for 6. The 100 for the innings came off 394 balls – the seventh-slowest anywhere since 2002 for matches ESPNcricinfo has ball-by-ball data for. Rizwan and Ashraf lifted the team after that but New Zealand still hold the upper hand.—Agencies