Cricket: Black Caps complete crushing victory over Pakistan to take World No 1 test ranking
New Zealand stood on the shoulders of a giant to complete an emphatic clean sweep of their test summer and make official their No 1 ranking in the world.
Their only remaining mountain to climb is a place in the World Test Championship final scheduled for Lord’s in June, but they can do nothing but sit back and wait to see if India and/or Australia can remain ahead of them.
New Zealand have ended their WTC campaign with a percentage of .700. Australia and India sit at .767 and .722 but are halfway through a series that will alter those numbers.
The Casio FX82s will get a work out in weeks to come but now is a time to celebrate a comprehensive innings and 176-run victory that was highlighted by Kyle Jamieson’s stunning return of 6-48 from 20 quite brilliant overs.
Jamieson’s haul gave him a return of 11-117 for the match and at no stage did his figures feel inflated. Trent Boult was his main foil in this innings, taking 3-43.
Allied to New Zealand’s monumental 659-6, an innings that included a double century by Kane Williamson, 157 by a one-legged Henry Nicholls and a maiden century to Daryl Mitchell, the home side were far, far too good for a beleaguered Pakistan.
Christchurch Hospital overlooks Hagley Park and the sound of helicopters landing and taking off from its rooftop pad provided a regular backing track to the cricket.
There was something of a one-foot-on-the-plane feel to Pakistan’s batting effort too. Faced with the prospect of countering Jamieson, they looked panic-stricken and in full retreat.
It was a limp end to their tour after taking New Zealand down to the wire in Mt Maunganui.
Pakistan began at 8-1 following the loss of luckless Shan Masood late on day three.
Williamson started the day with the old firm of Boult and Tim Southee, a bowling partnership he has leant heavily and successfully on down the years.
Boult was bowling from the Botanic Gardens End, where Jamieson had looked so menacing the previous evening. There was the sense that his introduction would be when the action started.
If Boult was the sensitive type he might take umbrage at this, like Sheriff Woody tossed to the back of the closet because Buzz Lightyear is in town. While Jamieson is a fantastic shiny new toy, the old one still has some tricks as he showed by winkling out the nightwatchman, Mohammad Abbas.
Abbas nicked behind playing for swing to one that went straight with the arm. That’s excusable, especially for a tailender. What wasn’t was his reckless call to review a straightforward decision. When the DRS confirmed what he must have already known, it might have been wise for him to walk off Hagley Oval in the opposite direction to the pavilion so he didn’t have to make eye contact with coaches Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan.
There were recognised batsmen that might have needed those reviews but perhaps Abbas felt he owed them nothing after all the catches that went down off his bowling.
Regardless, his dismissal brought Azhar Ali, Pakistan’s top scorer in the first innings, to the crease. He has batted with a calm here that has eluded his teammates.
Calm is not a word you’d use to describe Abid Ali, though the 33-year-old has showed a willingness to scrap. Across his four innings he has soaked up a lot of balls in scoring 25, 0, 25 and 26. The 312th and final ball of his tour was a relatively innocuous Jamieson half-volley outside off stump but he spooned his drive slightly and sub fielder Will Young dived to take a gem of a one-handed catch at point.
That brought Haris Sohail to the crease. He bats without stickers but if he was in the market for a sponsor, this tour has not been a shop window. He reached 15 pleasantly enough before poking weakly at Jamieson.
Azhar Ali made batting look easy on day one and didn’t look unduly troubled here until Daryl Mitchell started bouncing him from around the wicket. Jamieson took that cue and ran with it, with Azhar succeeding only in gloving a ball to BJ Watling for 37.
That was four in the innings for Jamieson and nine in the match. He didn’t have to wait long to tick off yet more milestones, producing a snorter of an in-ducker to bowl Mohammad Rizwan (10).
The crab-like Fawad Alam and dasher Faheem Ashraf looked to be organising a little resistance until Boult returned to replace a tiring Jamieson. Fawad’s game is based on discipline so he was rightly furious with himself when on 16 he poked at a ball that didn’t require his attention. Ross Taylor held a nice catch to his right.
Faheem (28), who has probably just shaded Rizwan as Pakistan’s player of the series, flashed hard at Jamieson after tea and Watling snaffled his 257th dismissal to move above Matt Prior into ninth on the all-time list. It meant Jamieson became just the sixth New Zealander to take 11 wickets in a match.
There was still time for the skipper Williamson to grab back a bit of the limelight, taking the wicket of a slogging Shaheen Shah Afridi.
Boult, the old toy, wrapped things up having Zafar Gohar caught in the deep for an entertaining 37.
Jamieson was named man of the match while Williamson took out the player of the series.
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