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New Zealand level series despite Shafiq's ton

SHARJAH: New Zealand completed an innings and 80-run win over Pakistan in the third and final Test in Sharjah on Sunday, to level the three-match series 1-1.

Seamer Trent Boult took 4-38 and Mark Craig 3-109 which overshadowed Asad Shafiq’s career-best 137 as Pakistan were dismissed for 259 in their second innings in the fading light at Sharjah stadium.

The win was more praiseworthy in a week when New Zealand were left grieving after Australian batsman Phillip Hughes’s tragic death on Thursday, the day when both teams abandoned second day’s play.

New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum admitted it was tough to play.

“It was definitely, really tough circumstances to play the Test,” said McCullum. “Our thoughts were elsewhere. Proud of the guys for sticking together.”

Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul Haq conceded the tragic news affected his team.

“After starting very well during the first day, whatever happened in the second day that was really difficult to concentrate. I was struggling to concentrate, it was really difficult to bat on and carry on.”

Boult ended Shafiq’s fighting 183-minute knock of 18 fours and six sixes — his fifth Test century — with a short delivery.

Craig wrapped up the innings by dismissing Rahat Ali for six to end with match figures of 10-203.

He took 7-94 in the first innings.

Miserable failure

Boult struck three times in the space of 18 balls to leave Pakistan struggling at 24-3 before Craig and Sodhi (2-82) chipped in.

Pakistan won the first Test in Abu Dhabi by 248 runs while the second ended in a draw in Dubai.

Pakistan’s batting failure was miserable on a pitch where New Zealand plundered 690.

Shafiq and Sarfraz Ahmed (37) tried to take the attack to the New Zealand bowlers with a 73-run stand for the sixth wicket before Sodhi removed Ahmed and Yasir Shah (ten) in the same over before tea.

Shafiq hit Craig for a six and a four to reach his hundred off 123 balls to delay the defeat after Pakistan lost Mohammad Hafeez (24) and Misbah (12) in the post lunch session.

Hafeez gave a return catch to Craig while Misbah was adjudged caught behind off the glove on the same bowler and even a referral couldn’t save the Pakistan skipper.

Earlier, Boult had shaken Pakistan at the start of the innings, dismissing Shan Masood (four) in his second over, bowled Azhar Ali (six) in his fourth and trapped Younis Khan for a first ball duck in his fifth in a destructive spell.

Boult’s devastating spell came after New Zealand extended their first innings to 690 in the morning — their highest-ever total in Test cricket.

That gave New Zealand a huge 339-run lead over Pakistan’s first innings total of 351 and they pressed home their advantage quickly with Boult’s strikes.

Masood drove uppishly to be caught in the slips while Ali misjudged a sharp incoming delivery which hit the off stump as he tried to leave the ball.

Boult again used the angle well from round the wicket to trap the in-form Younis leg-before. A review could not save the batsman.

New Zealand had added a further 53 earlier in the morning after resuming on 637-8, with Craig (65) becoming the sixth batsmen to reach a half-century — a record number of 50-plus scores in one innings by Kiwis.

New Zealand’s innings included a world record 22 sixes, beating the 17 struck by Australia against Zimbabwe at Perth in 2003.

In all, a world record of 35 sixes were hit in the match, beating the 27 shared by Pakistan and India in Faisalabad in 2006.

Pakistan’s much-vaunted bowling attack suffered badly, with paceman Rahat Ali taking 4-99 and leg-spinner Yasir Shah conceding 193 runs for his four wickets.

New Zealand’s previous highest Test total of 680-8 came against India in Wellington in February this year.

Both teams now play two Twenty20 internationals in Dubai on December 4 and 5 which will be followed by five one-day matches.

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