MOUNT MAUNGANUI: Neil Wagner was praised as a “inspiration” on Wednesday after shrugging off the agony of two broken toes to help bowl New Zealand to victory at the Bay Oval in the first test.
During New Zealand’s first innings, a Shaheen Shah Afridi yorker broke two toes in Wagner’s right foot, however, surviving on painkilling injections and grit, he bowled 21 overs in Pakistan’s first innings and 28 in the second for a four-wicket match haul.
Read Also: Bismah withdraws from South Africa tour
During a marathon 11-over spell late on the fifth day, Wagner crucially eliminated Fawad Alam for 102 to snuff out Pakistan’s hopes of a surprising win. In the end, New Zealand won by 101 runs, 27 balls from the end.
Captain Kane Williamson of New Zealand said that it was an impressive success, but inside the band, Wagner’s heart was well known.
Standing in Pakistan, Mohammad Rizwan, the skipper, said, “I just told Kane Williamson that he was mad.” He’s another man. His personality is all, his aggression is very beautiful, and I know New Zealand is very proud of him.
Batsman Azhar Ali of Pakistan also said he had ‘enormous regard’ for Wagner.
Azhar said, “I said that to him… that’s what it means to play for your nation.” I think he’s showing that, because he’s an inspiration, and everyone knows that he doesn’t have one but two broken toes, and he’s fighting for his team. He gave 100% and maybe more than that, so I have a great deal of admiration for him.
Williamson said it was a rare case to try to get the best out of Wagner before the painkillers wear off.
“In terms of what he [usually] does on the cricket field, people talk about the size of his heart, but having a few broken toes, and he’s in a lot of pain and going off to get injections and numbing his foot, and we’re trying to use him,” Williamson said. “From ‘Wags,’ it was very, very special, something that the team loved. Out there, we wanted him and he delivered. His enthusiasm and desire to be out there to try to make an impact for the team is immense and we have not seen it any better than the commitment he has put forward throughout this test match.