New Zealand level Pakistan series in style

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Spin away: New Zealand spinner Mark Craig (R) delivers with precision as Pakistani cricket captain Misbah-ul-Haq (L) looks on.

New Zealand completed an innings and 80-run win over Pakistan in the third and final Test in Sharjah, to level the three-match series 1-1.

Seamer Trent Boult took 4-38 and Mark Craig 3-109 which overshadowed Asad Shafiq's career-best 137 as Pakistan were dismissed for 259 in their second innings in the fading light at Sharjah stadium. 

The win was more praiseworthy in a week when New Zealand were left grieving after Australian batsman Phillip Hughes's tragic death on Thursday, the day when both teams abandoned second day's play.

New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum admitted it was tough to play.

"It was definitely, really tough circumstances to play the Test," said McCullum. "Our thoughts were elsewhere. I'm proud of the guys for sticking together."

Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul Haq conceded the tragic news affected his team.

"After starting very well during the first day, whatever happened in the second day that was really difficult to concentrate. I was struggling to concentrate, it was really difficult to bat on and carry on."

Boult ended Shafiq's fighting 183-minute knock of 18 fours and six sixes — his fifth Test century — with a short delivery.

Craig wrapped up the innings by dismissing Rahat Ali for six to end with match figures of 10-203.

He took 7-94 in the first innings.

Miserable failure

Boult struck three times in the space of 18 balls to leave Pakistan struggling at 24-3 before Craig and Sodhi (2-82) chipped in.

Pakistan won the first Test in Abu Dhabi by 248 runs while the second ended in a draw in Dubai.

Pakistan's batting failure was miserable on a pitch where New Zealand plundered 690.

Shafiq and Sarfraz Ahmed (37) tried to take the attack to the New Zealand bowlers with a 73-run stand for the sixth wicket before Sodhi removed Ahmed and Yasir Shah (ten) in the same over before tea.

Shafiq hit Craig for a six and a four to reach his hundred off 123 balls to delay the defeat after Pakistan lost Mohammad Hafeez (24) and Misbah (12) in the post lunch session.

Hafeez gave a return catch to Craig while Misbah was adjudged caught behind off the glove on the same bowler and even a referral couldn't save the Pakistan skipper.

Earlier, Boult had shaken Pakistan at the start of the innings, dismissing Shan Masood (four) in his second over, bowled Azhar Ali (six) in his fourth and trapped Younis Khan for a first ball duck in his fifth in a destructive spell.

Boult's devastating spell came after New Zealand extended their first innings to 690 in the morning – their highest-ever total in Test cricket.

That gave New Zealand a huge 339-run lead over Pakistan's first innings total of 351 and they pressed home their advantage quickly with Boult's strikes.

Masood drove uppishly to be caught in the slips while Ali misjudged a sharp incoming delivery which hit the off stump as he tried to leave the ball.

Boult again used the angle well from round the wicket to trap the in-form Younis leg-before. A review could not save the batsman.

New Zealand had added a further 53 earlier in the morning after resuming on 637-8, with Craig (65) becoming the sixth batsmen to reach a half-century – a record number of 50-plus scores in one innings by Kiwis. 

New Zealand's innings included a world record 22 sixes, beating the 17 struck by Australia against Zimbabwe at Perth in 2003.

In all, a world record of 35 sixes were hit in the match, beating the 27 shared by Pakistan and India in Faisalabad in 2006.

Pakistan's much-vaunted bowling attack suffered badly, with paceman Rahat Ali taking 4-99 and leg-spinner Yasir Shah conceding 193 runs for his four wickets.

New Zealand's previous highest Test total of 680-8 came against India in Wellington in February this year.

Both teams now play two Twenty20 internationals in Dubai on December 4 and 5 which will be followed by five one-day matches.

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PCB to launch National Women Cricket Championship in honour of Malala Yousuf

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Global campaigner: Malala Yousafzai.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) will launch the inaugural Malala U-21 National Women Cricket Championship 2014 next month in a tribute to Malala Yousafzai, who is the youngest recipient of a Nobel Prize.

The tournament will be played from December 4-18 at the Lahore Country Club in Muridke, Pakistan.

Now at 17-years-old, Malala got worldwide recognition after being attacked by the Taliban two years ago for raising her voice for women and their right for education.

After the attack she was treated at different military hospitals while she also received treatment at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

However, she survived the deadly attack and since has taken that campaign on a global stage.

Malala spoke before the United Nations on July 1 last year and in the Harvard University as well while she met with likes of Queen Elizabeth II and U.S President Barack Obama.

“The naming of the event after Malala Yousafzai is not only a tribute to the youngest Nobel laureate ever but it's also meant to inspire our women cricketers to attain similar levels of excellence in their chosen domain,” a PCB official press release read.

The championship will consist of 12 regional teams and will be spread over two rounds – the qualification and the final. 

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PCB to test Ajmal action in a match before ICC tests

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Facing action: Saeed Ajmal.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) will not risk sending Saeed Ajmal for official International Cricket Council (ICC) bowling test on his action until the bowler proves he has been put through his paces in a match situation.

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Ajmal is currently in UK where his unofficial test at the Loughborough University has already been undertaken. The initial test revealed that his bowling bend and flexion was still over 15 degrees but yet it can improved with more work.

The off-spinner is working with a local biomechanist and former Pakistan spinner Saqlain Mushtaq in a bid to remedy his action.     

PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan stated that the bowler will go thorugh another unofficial test at Loughborough and then will be called back to Pakistan in order to appear in domestic matches.

“Both Ajmal and Saqlain believe that they are at the level where the bowling test can be cleared now but yet there will be one more informal assessment of Ajmal at Loughborough next week,” PCB Chairman said.

“If the new informal test showed improvement that he has reduced the 15 degree flexion then we’ll ask him to come here and play domestic cricket in Pakistan either four-day or one-day matches.

“He may pass the test in the laboratory but we’ll see first that whether he can do the same in match situation or not. If he did well in match situation as well with effectiveness, then we’ll send him for formal ICC test. But where he will be sent for the test will be ICC’s decision.”

Ajmal faces a race against time in order to be selected for the World Cup next year and has already missed the ongoing Test series against New Zealand in the UAE. Despite this, he has already been included in Pakistan’s preliminary 30-man squad but the PCB will wait until the end of the year before determining their final 15-man squad that will travel to Australia and New Zealand.

“We are getting him tested again so that we can get the real picture before naming of final squad for World Cup. The last date for submission of 15-man World Cup squad is January 7 so we need to have everything crystal clear about Ajmal before that date,” said Khan.

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