The first Test match between hosts New Zealand and Pakistan had all the elements of a dramatic game of cricket. Not only did the game end on the fifth day, but the winning side was decided only in the final hour. Some bold decisions, some interesting records and brilliant cricket made for a great match and Twitter was all for it.
Cricket fans as well as players — both current and former — were seen discussing the thrilling 101-run win for the Kiwis, the incredible fight put in by the lower-order Pakistan batsmen and the beauty of Test cricket.
A victory by a margin of over 100 runs does not seem like a close call. But after New Zealand captain Kane Williamson declared for only 373 runs, he gave his bowlers more than four sessions to bowl out the visitors and gain a lead in the two-match series. As pointed out by cricket statistician Mazher Arshad, this game also earned the Kiwis 60 points in the World Test Championship (WTC).
Kane Williamson is a genius and brave captain. Perhaps knowing how conditions ease out in NZ in 4th inns, he gave his bowlers more than 4 sessions to bowl out Pakistan. Declared with target only 373 and went for 60 points in the WTC. #NZvPak
— Mazher Arshad (@MazherArshad) December 30, 2020
Williamson’s move was brave but risky as Pakistan were 215 for 4 at one point, with a draw imminent. Fawad Alam and captain Mohammad Rizwan were stable, providing a 165-run stand for the fifth wicket and thereby worrying New Zealand.
The game saw Rizwan become the first Pakistan skipper to score two half-centuries in his debut Test as captain. On the other hand, Alam’s second Test century came a decade after his first. Pakistan cricketers Kamran Akmal and Mohammad Hafeez praised their game:
what a fight back by Team Pakistan 🇵🇰 fought hard but never mind.come back stronger in next game but in this match we have seen some good performances @iamfawadalam25 @iMRizwanPak @iFaheemAshraf good luck for next game.Congratulations to @BLACKCAPS team #PakvsNz — Kamran Akmal (@KamiAkmal23) December 30, 2020
Team Pakistan 🇵🇰 proud of U on showing a great resilient attitude & fought hard till end. Strong Character shown Stay strong & come back harder @iMRizwanPak @iamfawadalam25 @captainmisbahpk @YounusK75 @waqyounis99 #PakvsNz
— Mohammad Hafeez (@MHafeez22) December 30, 2020
Here are some more tweets appreciating Alam’s ton and the pair’s partnership:
That’s why we love this game... Grit & grinding... #testcricket @iamfawadalam25 century fab study in concentration 🙏👏 @TheRealPCB #NZvPak #BayOval pic.twitter.com/Dlsp3QyCNl — Danny Morrison (@SteelyDan66) December 30, 2020
— Grant Elliott (@grantelliottnz) December 30, 2020
The first Test match was also the last game of international cricket in 2020. The victory saw New Zealand become the number one Test squad in ICC rankings and Kane williamson enjoying the third spot in the batting rankings.
Kane Williamson is getting so many New Year presents! First became a father, then won Man Of The Match award for his brilliant century, New Zealand becomes No.1 Test team and now he's all likely to grab the No.1 Test batting position. pic.twitter.com/WNL69qIr78 — Mufaddal Vohra (@mufaddal_vohra) December 30, 2020
It is beyond belief for me that New Zealand are now #1 atop the Test cricket ranking. Even being second was a great achievement; to take top spot for the first time ever is testament that we are witnessing a golden age of New Zealand cricket. You really do love to see it.
— André Brett (@DrDreHistorian) December 13, 2020
Neil Wagner, who played with a fractured toe and picked up Fawad Alam’s wicket, also received praise.
Here are some other tweets marvelling at the match
— Wasim Jaffer (@WasimJaffer14) December 30, 2020
Test cricket 😍 — Jimmy Neesham (@JimmyNeesh) December 30, 2020
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In a spot of bother at 186/6 in reply to Australia's 369, debutant Washington (62) and Shardul (67) punched above their wights to stitch a "crucial" 123-run stand for the seventh wicket.
With India set a record target of 328 by Australia at the Gabba, left-arm pacer Starc clutching his right hamstring before the final day's play was a cause for concern for the home team.
Labuschagne, however, credited the Indian bowlers for being disciplined early on and hardly giving away any scoring opportunities.