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Twitter Reactions: Ajaz Patel spins New Zealand to an unbelievable victory in a thriller

Azhar Ali tried his best with the number 11 Abbas but the visitors were just too superb throughout the day.

New Zealand spinner Ish Sodhi celebrates with teammate Ajaz Patel
New Zealand spinner Ish Sodhi celebrates with teammate Ajaz Patel. (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)

What a Test match it was! A low-scoring game was witnessed in Abu Dhabi as New Zealand made a meal of the 175-run target on the fourth day. The Kiwis scripted a sensational turnaround as Pakistan collapsed from being comfortable at 147/4 to 155/8. It soon became 164/9 and then started the mind games of taking a single off the fourth or fifth ball of the over.

The enthralling contest continued with Mohammad Abbas managing to keep the opposition at bay even as New Zealand tried their best. The last wicket fought the battle for close to ten overs but Ajaz Patel pinned Azhar Ali in front of the stumps eventually as the hosts fell agonisingly short of the target by just four runs.

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Pakistan resumed the fourth day at 37/0 needing only 138 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series and many would’ve backed them to do so. But given their unpredictability, few were hopeful of the Kiwis coming back in the game. The latter happened in the first half hour of the day as Imam ul Haq, Mohammad Hafeez and Haris Sohail were sent back in the space of seven balls.

They were suddenly reduced to 48/3 and New Zealand were back in the game. But the hosts’ two of the best Test batsmen were in the middle. Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq weathered the early storm and employed some brilliant footwork against the spinners Ajaz Patel and Ish Sodhi who were bowling beautifully. They played the whole session with caution and to stay three down with the lunch. However, Wagner struck to take the edge of Shafiq’s bat in the last over of the session.

Stunning collapse

At 130/4, Pakistan were in the driver’s seat and surely with 46 runs needed, they weren’t going to blow away this time. To increase the assurance, Babar Azam also played a couple of delightful shots to bring the required runs down to less than 40. But there was still a twist in the tail. Azam and Azhar were involved in an ugly mix-up and the former had to lose his wicket.

This is where the Kiwis sniffed a chance. Ajaz bowled a wonderful delivery to Sarfraz Ahmed who tried to sweep across the line only to glove it to the wicketkeeper BJ Watling. Though the umpire didn’t give it out, they took the review and made him overturn the decision. Bilal Asif then found the worst possible time to become the hero with an ugly slog needing 22 runs to win. Wagner then set up Yasir Shah nicely to make it 155/8 and New Zealand were favourites to win the game.

But Azhar Ali churned out the most valuable boundary of his career and the required runs came down to 12 runs. Once again Pakistan looked to be winning but Hasan Ali had other ideas. Like Asif, he also wanted to become a hero with a pure batsman playing well at the other end. He also heaved the ball and connected only for the substitute fielder Tim Southee to take the catch in the deep.

But it was Ajaz Patel’s maiden five-wicket haul which stunned Pakistan as he pinned the defiant Azhar Ali to seal the game. This turned out to be Pakistan’s smallest defeat in terms of runs in Tests. New Zealand have now taken a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

Here’s how Twitter reacted during the enthralling day:

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