Pakistan's Fawad, Rizwan frustrate NZ on 5th day of 1st test

By STEVE McMORRAN 30 December 2020, 12:00AM

Fawad Alam and Mohammad Rizwan shared an unbroken 140-run partnership for Pakistan which endured between lunch and tea Wednesday and dulled New Zealand’s hopes of winning the first cricket test.

At tea, Pakistan was 215-4 and New Zealand was still six wickets from winning the test and taking a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.

Fawad was 94 not out, captain Rizwan was 45 and the pair had been together for just under four hours by tea, frustrating New Zealand’s bid for its third straight win in home tests this summer.

Pakistan began the day at 71-3 in its second innings, having been set 373 to win the match in at least 136 overs.

New Zealand struck early when Trent Boult removed the overnight batsman Azhar Ali (38) with his third ball of the day. That moment hinted at a speedy resolution of the match in New Zealand’s favor.

But Fawad and Rizwan had other ideas and they held out against the New Zealand attack, even after the introduction of the second new ball immediately after drinks in the second session.

The New Zealand bowlers mostly bowled well and there were many occasions in both sessions when the ball beat the bat, grazed the stumps or didn’t carry to a fielder.

But Fawad and Rizwan batted with great patience and concentration, eliminating dangerous shots as much as possible while accumulating runs, slowly but steadily.

The pitch at Mount Maunganui's Bay Oval has flattened out as would be expected on the fifth day. There was a little variable bounce from cracking or from footmarks but little to disconcert batsmen with the application showed by the Pakistan fifth-wicket pair.

Rizwan has already been involved in one batting rescue operation in this test. He made 71 and put on 107 for the seventh wicket with Faheem Ashraf as Pakistan made 239 in its first innings in reply to New Zealand’s 431.

Pakistan started the final day at 71-3, still 301 runs behind and with no real hope of winning the match. The loss of Azhar early seemed to have dented their chances even of saving it but Fawad and Rizwan have changed that equation.

Fawad bats out of an unorthodox open stance, with his front foot well outside leg stump. While he has to adjust his stance after the ball is bowled, he has been able to play a full range of shots. Rizwan has been particularly effective driving on the off side.

The pair had a nervous moment close to lunch when Rizwan, then 37, survived an appeal for a catch at slip from the bowling of Kyle Jamieson. New Zealand felt the ball had carried directly to the fielder but replays showed a bump ball which had been hit directly into the pitch before bouncing up to first slip.

A minimum of 36 overs remain to be negotiated in the last session Wednesday if Pakistan is to close out a draw.

By STEVE McMORRAN 30 December 2020, 12:00AM

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