KARACHI: New Zealand captain Tim Southee rued the drawn finish in the second Test against Pakistan at Karachi, saying the visitors' were just one ball away from getting a series win.
On Friday, New Zealand were countered by Sarfaraz Ahmed's counter attacking 118, but bounced back to be a wicket away from victory while Pakistan needed 15 runs for the same, before bad light forced a draw.
"You play to win Test matches and we got ourselves in, probably, positions to win both of them. 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 (without a win) and I'm sure Pakistan are the same. You walk away, you toil away for 10 days and a drawn series. So yeah. A lot of good cricket was played in and amongst those 10 days," said Southee in the post-match press conference.
Clearly, Sarfaraz was the difference between a series victory and a thrilling draw, as eventually the latter happened in Karachi. In the fourth innings, he made 118 runs in a chase of 319. In the series, making a comeback after four years of absence in Test cricket, Sarfaraz registered scores of 86, 53 and 78 in the series before making 118.
He also stitched useful partnerships for Pakistan:- a 123-run partnership with Saud Shakeel was followed by a 70-run stand with Agha Salman. Sarfaraz's efforts meant that New Zealand had to delay taking the second new ball, something which was duly acknowledged by Southee.
"With the two batters still in, Sarfaraz and (Agha) Salman, we felt that runs could have come quickly. And I think that's a build-up of the way Sarfaraz played through the day, which delayed us taking the new ball."
"If he hadn't played as positively as he did through the day, then we would've been able to take the new ball when it became available and had a lot more runs to play with. So again it was a bit of a balancing act."
"If you take the new ball, it may come on a bit easier and we were just trying to manage how to get through that partnership, which we did. We were able to take that new ball and get another couple of wickets. So yeah, its a fine line and you go on a bit of a gut feel what you feel is right at the time along with the other leaders in the group."
New Zealand will now play three ODIs against Pakistan in Karachi, starting from January 9.