Sorry Sar­fraz laments se­ries de­feat af­ter more brit­tle bat­ting

Arab News - - Sport News - Arab News Lon­don Pak­istan cap­tain Sar­fraz Ahmed was left an­noyed by yet an­other fourth-in­nings col­lapse. AFP

Sar­fraz Ahmed ad­mit­ted he was gut­ted as Pak­istan fell to only their sec­ond se­ries de­feat in the UAE.

The hosts were set 280 to win by New Zealand but were bowled out for 156 as the Ki­wis won the win­ner-takes-all fi­nal Test and took the se­ries 2-1. It was the first time in 49 years the Ki­wis have beaten Pak­istan in a se­ries away from home and left the hosts’ skip­per to rue what might have been.

“If you look at the se­ries, it was in our hands and we let it slip. We had our op­por­tu­ni­ties,” Sar­fraz said.

“Un­for­tu­nately, our lower or­der couldn’t score runs, even 50-60 from them could be handy but we aren’t there yet.”

Hav­ing se­cured a first-in­nings lead of 74 Sar­fraz’s side were in a com­mand­ing po­si­tion. But hav­ing seen a sim­i­lar lead slip in the first Test, when the Black Caps bowled them out for 171 chas­ing 176, Pak­istan knew they could not take any­thing for granted — Sar­fraz warn­ing them as much mid­way through the crunch clash in the UAE cap­i­tal. And with New Zealand bril­liantly led by Kane Wil­liamson — whose 19th Test ton in the vi­tal sec­ond in­nings was key to the tourists’ tri­umph — light­ning struck twice as Pak­istan’s first-in­nings lead counted for lit­tle come the dra­matic fi­nal day. They crum­bled to 156 all out in 56.1 overs on a weary pitch at Sheikh Zayed Sta­dium.

Debu­tant Will Somerville was the star as he took three for 52, hav­ing taken four for 75 in the first in­nings, as Pak­istan’s run chase never got go­ing, un­done by good tight bowl­ing and, as is their Achilles heel at times, sloppy bat­ting.

The se­ries de­feat was only Pak­istan’s sec­ond out of 13 in the UAE. Next up is a se­ries in South Africa, a daunt­ing task at the best of times, but Sar­fraz is de­ter­mined to be pos­i­tive head­ing into the clash against the Proteas.

“The run-scor­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity is the bat­ting or­der’s, but if it comes down to it, the tail should be able to chip in,” the skip­per said.

“If we go till the fifth day, we need to bat well, es­pe­cially with the new ball. That’s an area to work on. South Africa will be tough, but we need to be pos­i­tive in our thoughts.”

The se­ries saw Test cricket at its most en­ter­tain­ing best, from the Kiwi’s four-run win in the first match to yesterday’s last-day drama. Yasir Shah was named man of the se­ries. The spin king took 29 wick­ets over the three Tests at 19.03, but ad­mit­ted the se­ries de­feat took some of the shine off his bril­liant per­for­mances. “I feel very happy, be­cause I have won man of the se­ries af­ter a long time,” he said. “I try to re­peat the right things, and I fixed glitches in my ac­tion af­ter work­ing with the video an­a­lyst. I just try to fo­cus on do­ing my best. It’s un­for­tu­nate that we couldn’t win the se­ries de­spite the good per­for­mance.”

Pak­istan have made the UAE very much a home away from home and their record in the Emi­rates is tes­ta­ment to the fact that they are tough to beat in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Wil­liamson, left, was only too aware of what an achieve­ment it was for New Zealand to beat Sar­fraz and Co.

“It was fan­tas­tic. Beat­ing Pak­istan in their back­yard is very tough,” the win­ning skip­per said.

“It feels pretty spe­cial, and this will be one that the guys re­mem­ber for a long time. We knew there’s a lot of hard work to do.

“We felt we had a good firstin­nings to­tal, but Pak­istan played well in their first in­nings. We know the game can ebb and flow very quickly but we came out and played very well to­day.”

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