Two days after one of the most sensational wins in Test cricket, New Zealand are preparing in Dubai for the second Test against Pakistan with coach Gary Stead expecting an even tougher contest.
New Zealand pulled off an extraordinary four-run win in Abu Dhabi on Monday as they defended a modest target of 176. Debutant left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel took 5-59 as Pakistan’s last seven wickets fell for just 41 runs.
It was the fifth tightest win in terms of runs in the 141-year history of Test cricket.
The win was Stead’s first as head coach since he replaced Mike Hesson in August and he believes it will change Pakistan’s mindset ahead of the second Test which starts on Saturday.
“Pakistan are a good team, hard to beat over here,” said Stead. “That’s what makes this really, really pleasing. But they’ll be better for it, and if they were taking us lightly, they won’t be now.
“I expect them to be better and I expect us to be better as well.”
New Zealand have not beaten Pakistan in an away series since 1969 and Stead thinks they need further improvement in order to change that.
“I don’t think we’ve won too many Tests when we’ve scored 153 in the first innings,” said Stead of New Zealand’s first innings total.
“It was always going to be that we need to keep fighting and fighting, and my message to the boys was that if you can lose wickets in clumps, then why can’t we do that back to them through sustained pressure,” said Stead.
Fast bowler Neil Wagner, who became the eighth New Zealand bowler to complete 150 Test wickets in Abu Dhabi, praised the team’s spirit.
“It was an amazing fightback,” said Wagner. “We knew we’d be in with a chance if we kept fighting. That last hour (on day four) was quite freakish.”
Wagner broke the dangerous stand of 82 between Azhar Ali (65) and Asad Shafiq (45) and then claimed Yasir Shah’s wicket to play his role.
“We know that even if we are a little bit behind we can keep fighting, we know what we can achieve. It was bloody tough, hard work, a big fight and it will just get harder. (Pakistan) will come back hard.
“Hopefully we can do something similar and pretty special.”
Wagner’s two wickets in the final innings were put in the shade by Patel whose five-wicket haul landed him the man of the match award in his first Test.
“It was pretty awesome to see a guy like Patel come in in his first Test,” said Wagner of the 30-year-old India-born spinner.
“It took me about eight Tests to have my first win, so to play a special part in a win, see a smile on his face, was a cool moment.”
The second Test starts in Dubai from Saturday while the third and final, again in Abu Dhabi from December 3.