Hafeez, Shehzad power Pakistan to 194-1 at tea
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Pakistan opening batsmen Mohammad Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzad shared a record-breaking stand against New Zealand and powered their team to a strong 194-1 at tea in the first test on Sunday.
Hafeez was out for 96 and fell agonizingly short of scoring his first test century in more than two years when he offered a tame return catch to Corey Anderson’s slower delivery after captain Misbah-ul-Haq won his third successive toss and elected to bat.
Hafeez hit 10 boundaries during his 137-ball knock and combined in a 178-run opening-wicket stand with Shehzad to better Pakistan’s previous first-wicket record of 172 against New Zealand that featured Ramiz Raja and Shoaib Mohammad at Karachi in 1990.
Shehzad, who scored a century in the first test against Australia last month, survived a missed stumping chance on 16 and was unbeaten on 89 with 11 boundaries and Azhar Ali was not out on 8.
Hafeez fulfilled Misbah’s faith in him despite scoring only 48 runs in Pakistan’s historic 2-0 series victory against Australia completed last Monday.
Hafeez, who scored his last test century against Sri Lanka in June 2012, grew in confidence and raised his half century off 81 balls by pulling Tim Southee to midwicket for his fourth boundary.
Shehzad was more subdued and played out cautiously as he reached his fifty off 148 balls with five fours by guiding legspinner Ish Sodhi for two runs to square leg.
However, Shehzad increased the scoring rate thereafter and didn’t hesitate to punish lose deliveries on the slow wicket, hitting a further six boundaries as Pakistan made 106 runs in the second session.
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum gave lengthy spells to both his spinners Sodhi and Mark Craig, but it was Corey Anderson’s gentle medium fast bowling that brought the only success for him.
Earlier, Craig should have got the breakthrough in the first session but wicketkeeper BJ Watling missed Shehzad’s stumping with Pakistan’s score on 44.
Fast bowlers Southee and Trent Boult didn’t get much assistance off a slow wicket before captain McCullum drafted his spinners in the 10th over.
But both Pakistan openers played out solidly and guided their team to 85-0 at lunch.
Pakistan kept faith in the same playing XI that defeated Michael Clarke’s men by 356 runs in the second test at the same venue last Monday for its first series victory against Australia in 20 years.
New Zealand included both Sodhi and Craig with the Sheikh Zayed Stadium wicket having a history of assisting slow bowlers as the match progresses.
Pakistan has not lost a test series to New Zealand since the Black Caps won 2-0 in 1985.