Neil Wagner put the pain of his fractured toes behind him to help the Black Caps to a thrilling win over Pakistan late on the final day of the first test at Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui.
The tireless left-armer, birthday boy Kyle Jamieson, and left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner took crucial wickets in the final session on Wednesday to help secure a 101-run win with 4.3 overs to spare that provisionally moved the Black Caps to No 1 on the ICC rankings and kept their hopes of making the World Test Championship final alive.
Wagner bowled 11 overs in a row after tea, despite fracturing two toes while batting on day two, while Jamieson bowled nine in a row at the same time and both took a pair of wickets as the visitors quickly went from dreaming of a win to battling – and ultimately failing – to secure a draw.
Jamieson finished with 2-35 on his 26th birthday while Wagner finished with 2-55 to help the Black Caps win their fifth test in a row – a task finished by left-armer spinner Mitchell Santner, who took the final two wickets and finished with 2-52.
In 2016 at Seddon Park in Hamilton, the last time they played on these shores, Pakistan lost nine wickets in the final session of the final day as they collapsed to a loss when a draw seemed inevitable.
This time around, on the other side of the Kaimais, it was six, as they went from 240-4 to 271 all out and a marathon partnership of 165 between Fawad Alam, who made 102, and captain Mohammad Rizwan, who made 60, proved in vain.
Four hours of hard graft by that pair had ensured all three results were still possible at tea.
Pakistan suffered a blow just nine balls into the day, when Trent Boult dismissed Azhar Ali for 38 with one that took an edge through to wicketkeeper BJ Watling, but from there they didn’t lose another wicket for 63.2 overs.
At lunch, they had moved to 137-4 and when the players took the field again, it was all about the countdown to the new ball, but when Tim Southee and Boult got their hands on it, they couldn’t buy a wicket.
The Pakistan pair brought up their 100-run partnership off 44.1 overs when Alam edged one from Boult for four, and at tea they were 215-4, requiring 158 runs off 36 overs at an asking rate of slightly more than four an over.
Rizwan brought up his half-century in the first over back after tea, off 156 balls, while Alam brought up his century off 236 balls, allowing Pakistan to begin to dream of their first away win since May 2018.
It was Jamieson who finally did make the breakthrough, 11 overs into the 36-over final session, trapping Rizwan LBW on 60 with one that nipped back, after reviewing umpire Wayne Knights’ original decision.
Wagner was on and off the field throughout the day, managing his pair of fractured toes, but in the seventh over of his fourth spell, Alam got bat on a delivery down the leg side and was on his way for 102 as Watling took the catch and claimed his 250th test dismissal as a wicketkeeper.
Any thoughts of a chase were well and truly gone by that point, with Faheem Ashraf and Yasir Shah at the crease – and the latter didn’t last long before Jamieson had him caught by Southee for a duck.
Wagner struck again in the 10th over of his spell, getting Faheem to edge one through to Watling, and as the final hour began after drinks, the Black Caps had 15 overs to get the last two wickets.
Santner returned as Wagner’s long spell ended and struck with his fourth delivery, trapping Mohammad Abbas LBW for one – a decision that survived a review.
He returned again with five overs to go and seven fielders around the bat and claimed the final wicket – Naseem Shah caught and bowled for one – to finish with 2-52 and put his side on top of the world – until the end of the Australia-India series, at least.