New Zealand's bowlers produced a late final session surge to guide their side to a tense 101-run victory over Pakistan in the first Test in Mount Maunganui, keeping alive their hopes of reaching next year's World Test Championship final.
Pakistan were dismissed for 271, chasing a victory target of 372, with 4.3 overs remaining in the match at Bay Oval on Friday.
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"It was a brilliant game," New Zealand captain Kane Williamson said.
"Both teams put their best foot forward and Pakistan were incredibly resilient in that second innings, but the boys kept coming.
"A huge effort by the bowlers to get us across the line."
A key part of that huge effort was fast bowler Neil Wagner, who had two of his toes broken by a Shaheen Afridi yorker during New Zealand’s first innings.
The fractured toes didn’t take Wagner out of the game though, with the 34-year-old bowling 21 overs in Pakistan’s first innings and an impressive 28 in their second, with the aid of painkilling injections.
Wagner claimed four wickets for the match, including the crucial second-innings wicket of Fawad Alam for 102 whilst in the midst of a lengthy 11-over spell.
That crucial wicket helped steer New Zealand to a late victory on day five, a 101 run win just 27 balls from the close of play.
Neil Wagner praised by Pakistan skipper
Pakistan captain Mohammad Rizwan was among several players to praise the Kiwi fast bowler’s Herculean effort.
“I just told him he’s mad. He’s a different guy,” Rizwan said.
“His attitude is everything, his aggression is very beautiful.”
Batsman Azhar Ali said he had ‘huge respect’ for Wagner after he played a crucial role in both innings.
“I said that to him — that’s what it means to play for your nation,” Azhar said.
“I think he’s showing that and he’s an inspiration, everyone knows he’s got not one, but two, broken toes and he’s fighting for his team.
“He was giving 100 percent and maybe more than that, so I have a huge respect for him.”
"Not a huge disappointment (with the result)," Rizwan said. "That's Test cricket.
"We lost this match, but we're still in the series."
The second match in the two-Test series is at Christchurch's Hagley Oval from January 3 and New Zealand need to win that game as well to give them any chance of making the Test Championship final at Lord's.
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