A bright sunny morning on the second day of the first Test greeted New Zealand and Pakistan in Christchurch after persistent rain on the first day resulted in no play. Kane Williamson, who finally won a toss after his string of losses in India, would have been an ecstatic captain as New Zealand bowled out Pakistan for 133 by Tea at the Hagley Oval on Friday (November 18). Colin de Grandhomme, starred in that pursuit with a six-wicket haul on debut, with figures of 6 for 41 in 15.5 overs.
Misbah-ul-Haq, who became the first captain to lead Pakistan in 50 Tests, was the only saving grace in an otherwise insipid batting performance from the visitors. He offered resistance through his 108-ball 31 before getting a leading edge off Trent Boult which was taken by Kane Williamson at midwicket. Opener Sami Aslam was the next-best scorer with 19 while only two others even reached double figures.
Going into Lunch at 88 for 4, Pakistan capitulated rather swiftly after the break with de Grandhomme striking in the first over on return. The steady stand of 32 between Misbah and Asad Shafiq was broken as the latter edged one to Jeet Raval at second slip. One wicket brought another as Todd Astle, who had dropped one at gully earlier, held onto the catch time from Sarfraz Khan off Tim Southee. With the New Zealand bowlers entering the tail within a session and a half and with just 101 on the board, Pakistan were in dire straits.
The lower order chipped in to add runs with Misbah, but Trent Boult and de Grandhomme wrapped up proceedings in 55.5 overs, giving New Zealand the early advantage, given that the Test is now a four-day affair and the chance to even eke out a result.
Pakistan made a slow start after being asked to bat with the openers scoring four runs in seven overs. Their first boundary came off the bat of Azhar Ali in the eighth over who had just one run in 21 balls. New Zealand’s decision to leave out Matt Henry came as a surprise, but de Grandhomme, who was the first-change bowler, was impressive, his bowling complementing the conditions of a green surface well enough to yield results.
New Zealand wasted a review in the opening over of the day when Southee made a loud appeal for leg before against Aslam. After the on-field umpire adjudged him not out, Williamson decided to challenge the decision, which stood, as the ball was found to be going over the stumps. The first wicket, however, came in de Grandhomme’s third over when he breached the defences of Azhar for 15, after which there was a period in which runs came thick and fast.
However, Southee made a laudable comeback after a mediocre opening spell, that saw his lines awry, to have Aslam caught at second slip for 19 after changing ends that instigated a flurry of wickets. From 51 for 1, Pakistan were reduced to 56 for 4, with a double strike from de Grandhomme that sent back Babar Azam, who was playing his second Test, and the veteran Younis Khan after edging to second slip.
Misbah and Asad Shafiq ground it out thereafter and ensured Pakistan ended the first session without further damage. Despite de Grandhomme picking the bulk of wickets in the session, Southee applied pressure with a spell that contained as many as seven maidens in ten overs, conceding only eight runs.
Earlier, New Zealand made five changes to their side from the one that featured against India in an attempt to halt their four-match losing streak. While they handed debuts to de Grandhomme and Jeet Raval, who replaced Martin Guptill at the top, Todd Astle made a return to the side after four years. Pakistan, on the other hand, decided to play an extra batsman in Azam and left out Wahab Riaz.