One day after an all-time classic came to a close in Melbourne, across the Tasman sea in New Zealand, one of the most dramatic finishes in recent times unfolded.
New Zealand beat Pakistan by 101 runs in a thrilling finish to win the first Test in Mount Maunganui on Wednesday, where the visitors were just 27 balls from escaping with a draw.
The win tentatively put New Zealand top of the World rankings and kept alive their chances of making the World Test Championship final.
After a 165-run fifth-wicket stand by Fawad Alam and Mohammad Rizwan the Test went into the final session with both sides in with a chance to win. Pakistan needed 158 runs, New Zealand required six wickets and 36 overs remained.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson put his faith in Neil Wagner, bowling on two broken toes, and the youngest of his pace quartet, Kyle Jamieson, to swing the match towards the Black Caps.
Wagner bowled a marathon 11 overs unchanged after tea and Jamieson – on his 26th birthday – bowled nine. They obliged with the wickets of Alam and Rizwan.
When Jamieson had Rizwan lbw for 60 and Wagner removed Alam for 102, New Zealand were into the tail as Pakistan folded from 240/4 to be all out for 271.
But there was more twists in the end.
Tail-enders Shaheen Afridi and Naseem Shah kept the draw option alive as long as they could, blocking for more than seven overs in fading light before Naseem was caught and bowled by spinner Mitchell Santner for one, ending Pakistan’s resistance.
It was a catch that will be remembered for a long, long time as Santner plucked one out of thin air, using every inch of his height to good effect.
Jamieson struck first, 11 overs after the tea break, with the wicket of Rizwan, lbw for 60, before Wagner removed Alam for 102.
Alam had been discarded by Pakistan in 2009 after three Tests and a best innings of 168, and since his recall this year his highest score was 21 against England in August.
Here’s how Twitter reacted after the tense finish to the Test match:
Fawad’s long wait
Fawad Alam's Test centuries
|1.||168||v Sri Lanka||Colombo (PSS)||13 Jul 2009|
|6.||102||v New Zealand||Mount Maunganui||30 Dec 2020|
(With inputs from AFP)