ABU DHABI: Kane Williamson termed his team’s first away series win over Pakistan in 49 years as “special” after New Zealand thumped Pakistan by 123 runs in the third and final Test in Abu Dhabi on Friday.
Williamson’s sublime 139 in New Zealand’s second innings aided by an unbeaten 126 by Henry Nicholls helped New Zealand set a daunting 280-run target for Pakistan on the fifth and final day.
Spinners Will Somerville and Ajaz Patel, and fast bowler Tim Southee took three wickets apiece as Pakistan folded for 156 in 56.1 overs on a sluggish fifth day pitch at Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
New Zealand’s last away series win over Pakistan was in 1969 when they won the second Test in Karachi and drew the other two in Lahore and Dacca.
New Zealand came this time as underdogs to the tough conditions of Pakistan’s temporary home in United Arab Emirates, a fact which Williamson felt made the victory special.
“It was a fantastic series to be a part of and obviously to go one-all and then have a deciding match that goes five days with both teams in with a chance of a result proves it was a special win,” said Williamson, who has now captained New Zealand to victory in five of their last six series.
“Certainly from our perspective to have won the series against a side like Pakistan who are formidable in these conditions is quite special.”
New Zealand won a hard-fought thrilling first Test by a mere four runs in Abu Dhabi before going down by an innings and 16 runs in the second in Dubai.
Williamson said he was proud of his players, most of whom had not played in Asia.
“Without a doubt I am proud of them. I said inexperience in terms of international exposure but they have played domestic cricket and bowled a lot of overs.
“I don’t think (it was) a perfect game from either side. I think Pakistan played close to a perfect game in Dubai but it was a tough fight. Each team tried to remain afloat and in the end we pulled it off.”
— Disappointing —
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed admitted his team spurned good chances in both defeats.
“It’s a very disappointing series loss for us,” said Sarfraz, whose team has now lost three consecutive Tests at Sheikh Zayed Stadium. “We had our chances but we could not grab them.
“If you talk of the first Test we bowled them out for a low score but did not take a big lead. Here too we did not take a big lead and had to pay for that.”
Pressure is sure to increase on Safraz as his role as captain comes under closer scrutiny. He has now lost five of his ten Tests as skipper, with four wins and a draw, but he said it is not the right time to leave the post.
“Look, when it (defeat) happens then one thinks on that,” said Sarfraz. “But before an important tour of South Africa if you think like that, then it’s not beneficial for the team.
“If I think that I am making mistakes and if the Pakistan team is not winning because of me, then I will think about getting away from it. And if there is someone else who is better suited for the captaincy of the Pakistan team, then I will do.”
New Zealand head home to start a two-Test series against Sri Lanka next week while Pakistan have one one-day warm-up match in South Africa before starting the first of three Tests in Centurion on December 26.