Pakistan stumble to 115-4 at lunch in 1st Test against NZ


Pakistan’s top order faltered at the start new zealandspinners on a dry and difficult wicket to reach 115-4 on the opening day of the two-Test series on Monday.

Captain Babar Azam was relieved for 12 and survived an LBW television referral in the first over from Ish Sodhi and was unbeaten on 54 at the break.

Former skipper Sarfraz Ahmed, playing his first Test since 2019, was recalled, not out for four, as New Zealand took an early advantage in their first Test. Pakistan in 20 years.

Babar brought up his fifty in 76 balls when he sent Sodhi on the backfoot through mid-on for his seventh boundary, before Tim Southee made his return by dismissing Saud Shakeel (22) in the pre-lunch over. Made more progress in the spell.

Shakeel, who scored four half-centuries in England’s 3-0 clean sweep against Pakistan last week, played a loose drive against Southee and offered a routine catch in the gully when the pair were about to resume the innings .

Spinners Ajaz Patel and Michael Bracewell got plenty of turn in the first hour after Southee lost the toss after the New Zealand skipper and Babar elected to bat.

Also read: Pakistan won the toss, elected to bat against New Zealand

Southee read the slow and dry wicket fast and attacked his spinners with the new ball just three overs old.

Patel got the breakthrough on his third ball as Abdullah Shafiq (7) was stumped off two consecutive deliveries from the left-arm spinner.

Shan Masood also tried an over-ambitious shot against Brackwell (3) offspin and Tom Blundell made his second stumping, before Imam-ul-Haq (24) played a reckless shot and dismissed Southee at mid-off. Left Pakistan struggling. 48-3.

Pakistan made three changes to the team that lost by eight wickets to England at the same ground last week. Sarfraz got his first Test in three years after all-format wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan was rested.

The left-arm pacer had also included Mir Hamza in the playing XI after playing his only Test against Australia in 2018 in Abu Dhabi. Hamza replaced all-rounder Faheem Ashraf.

Opener Imam also returned to the squad after missing the last Test in Pakistan due to a hamstring injury. Masood moved down to No.3 as Azhar Ali retired from Test cricket after playing his last Test against England.

Southee was appointed captain for the two-Test series after Kane Williamson stepped down ahead of the Black Caps’ first Test tour of Pakistan since 2002.

New Zealand played an ODI series in Pakistan in 2003 and were due to play a limited-overs series in Pakistan last year, but called off their tour a few hours before the toss in the first ODI due to security reasons.

Weather concerns in Multan have forced the Pakistan Cricket Board to move the Black Caps’ entire tour, consisting of two Test matches and three ODIs, to Karachi.

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