NZ takes 9 wickets in last session to stun Pakistan
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HAMILTON, New Zealand — New Zealand took nine wickets in Tuesday's final session to snatch an extraordinary 138-run win over Pakistan in the second test, completing a 2-0 sweep and ending a 31-year drought in home series against Pakistan.
After setting Pakistan 369 to win, New Zealand took 60 overs and more than four hours to capture its first wicket as Sami Aslam (91) and stand-in captain Azhar Ali (58) shared a 131-run opening stand which gave the tourists a slim chance of pushing for victory and strong likelihood of at least forcing a draw.
As the chances of pushing for victory ebbed away, Pakistan tried to put up the shutters in the final session and the innings crumbled spectacularly for 230, giving New Zealand victory by 138 runs with half an hour to spare.
Spinner Mitchell Santner started the decline with two wickets, Tim Southee, Matt Henry and Colin de Grandhomme chipped in one each, then Neil Wagner (3-57) took three wickets in his last two overs to destroy the tail.
The last seven wickets fell for 31 runs and the Pakistan team that arrived in New Zealand with confidence brimming now heads to Australia after its first series defeat in two years, and with its morale at a low ebb.
"If we go back to the start of the test match, losing the toss and being able to reach 271 on a difficult wicket was a huge start," New Zealand captain Kane Williamson said. "The guys bowled really well after that.
"A lot of credit has to go to Pakistan for the way they batted today. We set them a tough total and up until that last session they were certainly in with a chance of winning. I guess when you've got all three results in play going into the last session it makes for a very exciting finish and it's nice to be on the right side of it."
New Zealand took a first innings lead of 55 by dismissing Pakistan for 216 in reply to its 271. The Black Caps then built a 368 run lead by declaring at 313-9 in its second innings, a total built around Ross Taylor's unbeaten century.
For much of the final day it was hard to discern any real intent on Pakistan's part to puruse what would have been the highest-successful run chase in a test in New Zealand.
Aslam and Azhar assembled slow half centuries and their 131-run stand occupied 4-1/4 hours, finally ending near the drinks break in the afternoon which marked the midpoint of the final day. At tea, Pakistan was 158-1, still needing 211 runs to win from 34 overs in the final session at a run-rate of 6.21.
But it became clear when the last session began that Pakistan had been preserving wickets with the intention of going on the attack.
zhar and Aslam were dismissed 28 runs apart, hitting out in an effort to lift the scoring rate or to give up their wickets in the attempt. First Azhar dragged a wide delivery from spinner Santner onto his stumps, then Aslam holed out to Williamson at mid-off.
Babar Azam, top-scorer in the first innings, made 16 then followed in the manner of his captain, dragging an innocuous delivery from Santner onto his wicket.
Wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed, who made 41 from 44 balls in the first innings, was promoted in the order in the clearest sign that the tourists had some intention of attacking its winning target.
He hit 19 runs from 21 balls but, when he was out, Pakistan gave up the chase.
Younis Khan, who has been going through the longest dry patch of his career with single figure totals in each of his past five innings, was out for 11 on his 39th birthday, unable to save his side as he has so often in the past.
Asad Shafiq fell for 0, Sohail Khan for 8, then Wagner dismissed Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz and Imran Khan for ducks. The tailenders survived a total of seven deliveries.
"We knew the target was quite a big one but we wanted to have a good partnership up front and see what we could plan after that," Azhar said. "We had that partnership but we couldn't get the run-rate going.
"In the last few overs we didn't bat well. We wanted to win this game and we didn't want it to end up like this anyway."
New Zealand won a test series against Pakistan in New Zealand for the first time since 1985, lifting itself to sixth on world test rankings.