One day, 10 wickets – It was a day that 32-year-old Pakistani leg-spinner Yasir Shah will never forget as he quickly became the Black Caps worst nightmare. To make matters worse for the visitors, a first innings total of just 90 runs meant that Pakistan enforced the follow-on where they lost a further two wickets in what now seems like a helpless position heading into the fourth day in Dubai.
26/11/2018, the day that Yasir Shah single-handedly brought down the New Zealand cricket team with a 10-wicket assault in Dubai.
After posting 418/5 with the bat in their first innings, Pakistan looked to be in for a long & tiring day out in the field. Batting for a total of 167 overs, the hosts would’ve been expecting a fairly lengthy stint under the hot Dubai sun if the Black Caps decided to bat at the same tempo. The tourists made a great start to the innings with an opening partnership of fifty blossoming between Jeet Raval and Tom Latham. A lapse in concentration from Raval left the door wide open for leggy Yasir Shah to strike as he attempted a reverse-sweep which ended horribly wrong for the Black Caps opener as he dragged it on ever so slightly in what has to be said was a freak dismissal. New Zealand didn’t know it yet, but they were about to be involved in one of the biggest batting collapses ever in the United Arab Emirates.
With skipper Kane Williamson at the crease, it was time for the Black Caps to put the foot down and grit their teeth just like Pakistani-duo Azhar Ali and Haris Sohail did after two early wickets had fallen in their innings. That plan was short-lived as Shah got one to grip tightly in the surface and turn back sharply into Tom Latham which forced a flick to the onside, straight to short leg where Imam-ul-Haq was good enough to pouch it. All of a sudden, the Black Caps went from being 0-50 to 2-61 in a matter of overs. The Dubai wicket was offering plenty of assistance for Yasir’s legbreaks, and it was evident that the panic was starting to set in for the tourists.
A bit low on runs in the first test in Abu Dhabi, veteran & middle order batsman Ross Taylor made his way into the pressure cooker with plenty of work to do. This was a game-changing partnership, if Pakistan could dismiss one of Williamson or Taylor early they’d be in an extremely powerful position for the remainder of the test. Almost on cue, Shah delivered an almost-unplayable ball that slid past Taylor’s defences and crashed into the stumps as the death rattle echoed around the ground. Taylor lasted just two balls before he was sent back to the pavilion, putting immense pressure on the incoming Henry Nicholls. It was like walking into a cauldron, Yasir Shah was staring to fire up and the Black Caps were in the firing line as a sea of nerves swept over them. Intent on blocking out the red-hot Shah, Nicholls defended at one outside off-stump, only to discover that the ball had turned back sharply and interrupted his woodwork as well. If you thought the Taylor wicket was unplayable, this was a cut above that as Nicholls also descended for a second-ball duck.
It was well & truly panic stations for the Black Caps as Pakistan and Yasir Shah had them on the ropes at 4-61. A run out at the bowler’s end which saw BJ Watling short of his ground didn’t help their cause, skipper Kane Williamson was just watching the carnage take place first hand at the non-strikers end. The rest was history, Shah mopped up the tail in quick succession as he ended the innings with career-best bowling figures of 8/41. New Zealand were all out for 90 which took just 35.3 overs, still trailing by a mountainous-328 runs.
Enforcing the follow-on, Sarfraz Ahmed and his Pakistani side chipped away at New Zealand for a further 43 overs as day three finally drew to a close. It’s a horrible situation to be in, but the Black Caps managed to fight their way to stumps just two wickets down for 131 runs. Surprise, surprise, Yasir Shah managed to pick up both those wickets in the form of a stumping and a rip-snorting delivery that caught the outside edge of Kane Williamson’s bat which was later given out by DRS. It takes something pretty special to dismiss the New Zealand skipper, and that delivery was exactly that. With 10 wickets already to his name, Shah could potentially end the match later today going by what he’s already achieved in this test.