Captain Babar Azam struck an unbeaten 161 as Pakistan overcame a wobbly start to score 317-5 against New Zealand on the first day of the opening test at Karachi’s National Stadium on Monday.
Babar rode his luck in a 277-ball innings which contained 15 fours and a big six to bring up his century while Agha Salman was unbeaten on three at stumps after New Zealand failed to capitalise on a strong start with the ball.
Babar opted to bat first and the touring side began their first test in Pakistan in 20 years by taking two quick wickets via stumpings, with Ajaz Patel removing Abdullah Shafique for seven and spin partner Michael Bracewell dismissing Shan Masood for three.
Sensational from Babar 👏#PAKvNZ | #WTC23 | 📝: https://t.co/HdzZd88nK3 pic.twitter.com/Hy6ozE36Re
— ICC (@ICC) December 26, 2022
Bracewell could have had the key wicket of Babar in the 15th over, but Daryl Mitchell dropped a simple chance at first slip, though the bowler responded by having Imam-ul-Haq caught for 24 at mid-off three deliveries later.
Pakistan recovered from the early blows as Babar reached his half-century, but New Zealand skipper Tim Southee reduced them to 110-4 when Saud Shakeel (22) edged one to Henry Nicholls at gully shortly before lunch.
Babar continued his rescue act after the break, however, reaching his ninth test century in the company of Sarfaraz Ahmed, who made 86 in his first test since 2019 after replacing wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan in the side.
Babar enjoyed an excellent 196-run partnership with Sarfaraz before Patel dismissed the former captain when he edged one to Mitchell at first slip shortly before the close.
New Zealand, who abandoned their white-ball tour of Pakistan last year due to security concerns, are looking to end a run of four straight test defeats with Southee as the new captain following the six-year tenure of Kane Williamson.
Pakistan are seeking to overcome a similar slump, including a 3-0 home series defeat by England, in the two-test series against the New Zealanders.