Skipper Babar Azam hit a brilliant century to lead Pakistan’s recovery to 224-4 at tea, after New Zealand’s spinners made early inroads on the opening day of the first Test in Karachi on Monday. Azam struck spinner Michael Bracewell for a six towards mid-wicket to complete his ninth Test century, reviving Pakistan after they were struggling on 115-4 at lunch. Having won the toss and batted, Azam was unbeaten on 119, with the recalled Sarfaraz Ahmed alongside him on 43, as they added 114 for an unbroken fifth-wicket partnership.
Watch: Pakistan Captain Babar Azam Hits Huge Six To Reach Century vs NZ
Century reached in style!#PAKvNZ | #TayyariKiwiHai pic.twitter.com/krAqHkuJz0
— Pakistan Cricket (@TheRealPCB) December 26, 2022
Azam also hit 11 boundaries while Sarfaraz — playing his first Test since January 2019 — had seven hits to the rope. New Zealand will be ruing letting Azam off the hook when he was on just 12, after Daryl Mitchell spilled a regulation catch at slip off Bracewell.
The tourists also failed to run out Azam on 54 when Devon Conway missed the stumps with the Pakistan skipper well short of his crease. New Zealand’s spinners dominated the first session, with Bracewell dismissing Shan Masood for three and Imam-ul-Haq for 24, while Patel took the early wicket of Abdullah Shafique for seven.
In the penultimate over before lunch, fast bowler Tim Southee dismissed Saud Shakeel for 22 to complete a successful session for the tourists, playing their first Test series in Pakistan since 2002. New Zealand’s decision to play with three spinners appeared justified, as the National Stadium pitch took turn right from the start. Patel came on to bowl in just the fourth over of the innings.
He turned his third ball across a forward-playing Shafique, and had him stumped by wicketkeeper Tom Blundell. Bracewell then had Masood stumped in his second over before Haq miscued a drive off him and was caught at mid-off.
This is the first time in Test cricket history that the first two dismissals in an innings were both stumped. Pakistan, who suffered their first-ever 3-0 home whitewash to England last week, recalled Sarfaraz, Mir Hamza and Haq to the side.
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