New Zealand eases to an eight-wicket win

Leading by 67 runs after the first innings, New Zealand bowled out Pakistan for 171 in its second innings and reached its victory target of 105 runs less than an hour after lunch.

Henry Nicholls (L) of New Zealand congratulates team-mate Jeet Raval (C) after day four of the First Test between New Zealand and Pakistan at Hagley Oval.   -  Getty Images

New Zealand beat Pakistan by eight wickets in the first Test on Sunday to take a 1-0 lead in the two-match series and move closer to ending a 31-year losing streak to the tourist on home turf.

Leading by 67 runs after the first innings, New Zealand bowled out Pakistan for 171 in its second innings and reached its victory target of 105 runs less than an hour after lunch.

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Captain Kane Williamson scored 61 to lead New Zealand’s chase on Sunday before being caught at short fine leg with only one run needed for victory. Jeet Raval, making his New Zealand debut, followed with a boundary from Yasir Shah in the 32nd over to post the winning runs and finish 36 not out.

New Zealand’s win in less than two and a half days was only its sixth in a test match against Pakistan at home.

Pakistan hasn’t lost a test series in New Zealand since 1985, winning five and drawing three during that time, but the host now has a chance to end that streak with another victory in the second test beginning Friday in Hamilton.

“In terms of our performance, where we really stepped it up was the second innings with the ball,” Williamson said. “The surface was very good, it didn’t do too much and the boys put it in the right areas for a long period of time.”

New Zealand was coming off four straight losses in its most-recent test matches one in South Africa and three in India.

“Naturally, it’s tough coming off the back of a few losses, but it’s nice to be back at home,” Williamson said. “The boys kept it up and put some of those feelings of defeat behind us to play a very good test match.”

The teams only managed a combined 612 runs in four innings of a match dominated by seam bowlers.

While Williamson played a decisive role on Sunday to close out New Zealand’s victory, the course of the match was determined by two players making their test debut.

After the entire first day was lost to rain, New Zealand won the toss and bowled in conditions which saw the ball seam and swing. The 30-year-old all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme took 6-41 as New Zealand dismissed Pakistan in 55.5 overs in its first innings to claim the best innings figures by a New Zealander on test debut.

Raval then made 55 to help New Zealand reach 200 in its first innings and take a lead of 67. He backed up that effort taking four catches in the match three in the first innings and by supporting Williamson on Sunday in a partnership of 85 for New Zealand’s second.

The match was weighted heavily in New Zealand’s favor when Pakistan only managed to reach 129-7 at stumps on the third day, taking a slim 62-run lead.

Sohail Khan and Asad Shafiq provided some resistance in a 53-run stand for the eighth wicket, but their partnership ended at 158-8 and New Zealand wrapped up the innings only an hour after the start of play on Sunday.

New Zealand lost opener Tom Latham (9) before lunch when it was 19-1, but Williamson played the best innings of the match to lead his team to victory. He reached his 24th half century in tests in 67 minutes from 56 balls, hitting four fours and a six.

Pakistan ended the match without captain Misbah-ul-Haq who had to return home because his father-in-law is seriously ill.

“As a professional team and the No. 2 team in the world in tests, we should be better than that,” said stand-in captain Azhar Ali. “Things didn’t really go according to plan and I think we should have put in a better batting performance, especially in the first innings.”

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