Tim Southee fell agonizingly short of leading New Zealand to victory in his first series in charge and the 34-year-old put it down to Sarfaraz Ahmed’s dream comeback for Pakistan.
Even though New Zealand had the chance to win both of the two Test matches in Karachi, they were stopped from doing so by bad lighting and Sarfaraz’s scorching performance in the 35-year-first old’s series in nearly four years. The two-match series ended in a 0-0 draw.
New Zealand sensed a series-clinching victory when they reduced Pakistan to 80-5 having set them a daunting victory target of 319.
At Karachi’s National Stadium on Friday, Sarfaraz scored a career-high 118, his first Test century since 2014, to help Pakistan eke out a dramatic tie.
“Sarfaraz was outstanding… not only today but throughout the whole series,” Southee told reporters after bad light stopped play with New Zealand one-wicket away from winning the series and Pakistan 15 runs short of victory.
“He came out, he played positive cricket, played busy cricket. For somebody who hasn’t played for four years, credit to him.”
“We knew from the nature of the surface that things could happen late in the Test but Sarfaraz was probably the difference. We could’ve won had we got him earlier.”
NZ, Pakistan share honors after drawn Karachi thriller
Despite his bad glovework, Sarfaraz’s scores of 86, 53, 78, and 118 gave him the clear winner of both the match’s and the series’ MVP awards.
His counterattacking performance also had an effect on New Zealand’s bowling strategy, causing the tourists to defer taking the new ball.
“If he didn’t play as positively as he did throughout the day then we would have been able to take the new ball because we would have had a lot more runs to play with.”
Southee said “a lot of good cricket” was played in the series but the disappointment of the draw lingered.
“You play to win Test matches and we got ourselves in, probably, positions to win both of them,” Southee said.
“It was pretty tough going but the guys toiled away and we were one ball away from a series victory.
“So yeah, disappointing to walk away (0-0) and I’m sure Pakistan is the same.”
A three-match one-day international series between the teams will now begin on Monday.