Sarfaraz leads Pakistan to thrilling draw with New Zealand

January 6, 2023 GMT
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Pakistan's Sarfraz Ahmed celebrates after scoring century during the fifth day of the second test cricket match between Pakistan and New Zealand, in Karachi, Pakistan, Friday, Jan. 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)
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Pakistan's Sarfraz Ahmed celebrates after scoring century during the fifth day of the second test cricket match between Pakistan and New Zealand, in Karachi, Pakistan, Friday, Jan. 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistan was 15 runs shy of the winning target and New Zealand short by just one wicket as the teams drew the second test on a thrilling final day Friday.

Pakistan was 304-9 with its last pair in, and New Zealand desperately seeking one more wicket, when bad light ended play with three overs remaining.

The test series, New Zealand’s first in Pakistan in 20 years, was also drawn.

Sarfaraz Ahmed stymied New Zealand with a stoic century and looked like leading his side to safety, at least, until he was the ninth man out in the 87th over.

No. 11 batter Abrar Ahmed joined No. 10 Naseem Shah and they held out for 21 balls before the umpires ended the match in dimming light.

“Came down to the last moments. Great end to 10 days of pretty tough toil,” New Zealand captain Tim Southee said. “We knew from the nature of the surface that things could happen late in the test but Sarfaraz was probably the difference. We could’ve won had we got him earlier.”

New Zealand took seven wickets on the final day, including Sarfaraz, but he stood firm for 4 fours, 48 minutes for his 118.

Sarfaraz hit nine fours and a six in his first test century since 2014 when he made 112 against New Zealand in Dubai.

“When 140 runs were left (in the final session), the management said that you need to keep trying to score when the ball is there to hit.” Sarfaraz said. “If those two wickets didn’t fall then the result could’ve been something else.”

He featured in a second consecutive century stand with Saud Shakeel (32) after the Black Caps reduced Pakistan to 80-5 before lunch.

Michael Bracewell’s part-time offspin claimed two wickets in six deliveries and he finished with 4-75.

Sarfaraz and Shakeel defied New Zealand for nearly three hours before Shakeel fell to a brilliant reflex catch in the slips by Daryl Mitchell early in the final session.

Agha Salman made a brisk 30 but was clean bowled by Matt Henry before New Zealand struck twice with the second new ball under fading light.

Hasan Ali was trapped leg before wicket by Southee, and Sarfaraz was superbly snapped up by Kane Williamson low at leg slip off Bracewell. The batter walked off to a standing ovation from the sparse crowd at the National Stadium.

The 35-year-old Sarfaraz also struck half-centuries in his three previous innings after being recalled for the series following a near-four year absence. He was named man of the series.

“Dream comeback for him,” captain Babar Azam said. “Sarfaraz did not let the fire die within him in four years. His work ethic was always there and he continued to wait for his turn.”

Last pair Naseem and Abrar faced Bracewell and fellow spinner Ish Sodhi (2-59), with all 10 fielders around the batter, but survived the nail-biting moments.

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