Neil Wagner, the New Zealand pacer, became the second-fastest New Zealander to take 100 Test wickets when he dismissed Babar Azam on the third day of the Test between New Zealand and Pakistan on Saturday (November 19). The pacer took just 26 Tests to get to the milestone.
Wagner acknowledged that he never dreamt of taking 100 wickets in Tests. “I don’t think in my wildest dreams I’d thought about getting 100 wickets,” Wagner said after the day’s play. “I’m pretty pleased. Whichever way I can play a part for the team and deliver in a role, I’m happy. Whichever way it goes I want to keep contributing.
“I’m more than happy for Sir Richard Hadlee to keep that record, because he’s an absolute legend. I’m stoked to get to 100, but there’s still a long way to go,” he added.
New Zealand took giant strides towards sealing a win in the first Test after they reduced Pakistan to just 129 for 7, with an overall lead of 62. Wagner peppered the batsmen with plenty of short balls to rattle them and accounted for Azam and Younis Khan.
He revealed the team has given him to role of trying different things and to attack to get more wickets. “That’s just my job to do something different,” Wagner said about his short ball approach. “We know how it works out here – today there was a bit of wind, and that stops the ball from swinging.
“When conditions start getting a little easier to bat on, I’ve got to try and make something happen. It doesn’t always happen, but luckily today was one of those days when it paid off. I think we had to work long periods of time to get that success, and we did.”
Trent Boult helped New Zealand take a firm grip of the game with three wickets in the second innings while Tim Southee and Colin de Grandhomme bagged one apiece. Wagner felt the bowlers did a good job to bowl in partnerships and keep the pressure on.
“It was some quality fast bowling. We created pressure for long periods of time and got rewards for it towards the end,” he gushed. “I thought we bowled exceptionally well in partnerships.
“The way Tim and Trent opened the bowling – they are two of the best bowlers going around when they bowl like that. They’re just absolute class. Seeing them go about the work they did and pressure they built – I think at the start they were going at one run an over – it just shows the class of those two bowlers,” Wagner said.