Despite being bowled out on 297 in their first innings on the opening day of the second Test against New Zealand, Pakistan batsman Azhar Ali feels that they have enough runs on the board given the grass cover on the pitch at Hagley Oval. With the help of Azhar (93) and Mohammad Rizwan’s (61) brilliant show, the visitors managed to rack up a decent total in their first innings on Sunday. “I knew that the first couple of hours will be tough and obviously when you see this much grass on the pitch you have to focus for a longer time. We were positive, especially when the ball is in your zone you must score off it, on these kinds of wickets, because you’re going to get one good ball at some stage,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Azhar as saying.
“You have seen the run rate was good so it’s a good enough pitch to score runs but obviously in between, you need to leave on length, which was the key in my batting. If you look at the pitch it’s a decent total, especially batting first. It’s been tough all day so we feel we have enough runs on the board and we can build on it tomorrow,” he added.
Azhar also shared his experience of facing pacer Kyle Jamieson, who returned with the figures of 5-69 in his 21 overs.
“The guy is quite tall and hitting good lines and lengths and swinging the ball both ways, so it was fun and tough as well. With this height, we obviously needed to consolidate as much as we can. But when the ball is there to hit and whenever we got the opportunity we did score boundaries as well,” Azhar said.
“But it was a tough spell to negotiate and at the end of the spell Rizwan got out when he was hitting the ball quite nicely but as far as that partnership was concerned we were very happy, especially the way we scored the runs during that period, it was fantastic,” he added.
After being asked to bat first, Pakistan witnessed a poor start as Shan Masood was given LBW off Tim Southee’s delivery in the third over. Abid Ali was then joined by Azhar on the field. The duo took the team over the 50-run mark but soon after that, Jamieson picked his first wicket of the day, removing Abid (25). Jamieson dismissed Haris Sohail and Fawad Alam as well in his subsequent overs, reducing Pakistan to 83/4. The match then witnessed a brief halt due to rain. The play resumed shortly with Azhar and Mohammad Rizwan on the field.
Azhar and Rizwan played brilliantly and brought the visitors back in the game. Both completed their respective half-centuries, taking Pakistan over the 150-run mark. As the visitors’ started to gain some momentum, Jamieson struck again and sent Rizwan back to the pavilion. Rizwan scored 61 runs before being caught behind which brought Faheem Ashraf out in the middle.
Matt Henry then dismissed Azhar, who fell seven runs short of completing his century. Jamieson then got hold of Ashraf, who played a knock of 48 runs. After the completion of 72 overs, Pakistan were playing on 260/7, with Zafar Gohar and Shaheen Afridi on the field.
The duo managed to add 22 runs on the board before Southee removed Gohar (34) and Trent Boult dismissed Afridi (4). Boult then picked the wicket of Naseem Shah as Pakistan”s first innings came to an end.
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