Recent Match Report – Pakistan vs New Zealand 1st Test 2022/23

Lunch Pakistan 115 for 4 (Babar 54*, Sarfaraz 4*, Bracewell 2-32) vs New Zealand

The Karachi Test began in a bizarre fashion for Pakistan as each of their first three wickets fell to spin with batters trying to come down the wicket. Abdullah Shafique and Shan Masood were stumped – the first time that the first two wickets in a Test were stumping dismissals – while Imam-ul-Haq threw away a solid start at the stroke of drinks.
That left Pakistan 48 for 3 after the first hour before a 62-run fourth-wicket stand between Babar Azam and Saud Shakeel brought a semblance of stability to their Innings. Pakistan went to lunch at 115 for 4 in 30 overs, with Babar’s 27th half-century holding their innings together and Sarfaraz Ahmed giving him company on 4.
The action began after New Zealand moved to spin from both ends after three overs of pace with the new ball. On Ajaz Patel’s third delivery, Shafique came down the track to try to negate the early turn, only to see the ball go past his bat and into Tom Blundell’s gloves for a stumping.
Three overs later, Masood was out in a similar manner, trying to take Michael Bracewell’s offspin on, only to lose his shape and watch the ball whiz past his bat to the wicketkeeper.

With the spinners finding success early on, Ajaz and Bracewell bowled an extended spell right through to drinks, but Babar and Imam looked to resurrect the innings with careful batting, finding the occasional boundary but mostly relying on soft hands.

However, Imam fell for 24 off the last ball before drinks after charging down the track to loft Bracewell over his head. He toe-ended the shot to Tim Southee at mid-off, a dismissal against the run of play since the early morning turn off the deck had reduced, and the bowling was looking fairly benign.

Babar and Shakeel, though, batted comfortably after drinks. While Bracewell continued with his tight lines, Ajaz’s return spell and Ish Sodhi’s first spell were both wayward. Both batters feasted on the spinners, first off the back foot and then off the front as they grew in confidence.

Babar, in particular, punished anything short from the spinners, using the width of his crease to shuffle back and make room when required. He made the most of being dropped by first slip at 12 and, with his seventh four, brought up his half-century in 76 balls.

Shakeel felt at home with the moisture drying up in the second half of the session, often using the sweep to get off the strike against the spinners. However, Southee returned for a second spell before lunch, tempting Shakeel to drive away from his body and earning his reward as the left-hand batter, on 22, sliced it to the gully fielder.

That brought in Sarfaraz, playing his first Test since January 2019 and his first ever at home. He was welcomed with a loud cheer from the Karachi crowd and his only scoring shot until now was a boundary down the ground off Sodhi.

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