New Zealand 'inspiration' Wagner hailed for defying broken toes

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30 Dec 2020 | 10:24 AM
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New Zealand 'inspiration' Wagner hailed for defying broken toes

Wagner was hailed as an "inspiration" after he shrugged off the pain of two broken toes to help bowl New Zealand to victory in the first Test

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Fast bowler Neil Wagner was hailed as an "inspiration" after he shrugged off the pain of two broken toes to help bowl New Zealand to victory in the first Test.

A Shaheen Afridi yorker fractured two toes in Wagner's right foot during New Zealand's first innings but, surviving on painkilling injections and grit, he bowled 21 overs in Pakistan's first innings and 28 in the second for a match haul of four wickets.

Wagner crucially removed Fawad Alam for 102 during a marathon 11-over spell late on the fifth day to snuff out Pakistan's hopes of a surprise victory. New Zealand eventually won by 101 runs, 27 balls from the close.

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson said it was an incredible performance, although Wagner's heart was well known within the team.

Pakistan skipper Mohammad Rizwan said: "I just told him he's mad. He's a different guy. 

"His attitude is everything, his aggression is very beautiful."

Pakistan batsman Azhar Ali also said he had "huge respect" for Wagner.

"I said that to him -- that's what it means to play for your nation," Azhar said. 

"I think he's showing that and he's an inspiration, everyone knows he's got not one, but two, broken toes and he's fighting for his team. 

"He was giving 100 per cent and maybe more than that, so I have a huge respect for him." 

Williamson said trying to get the most out of Wagner before the painkillers wore off was a unique situation.

"People talk about the size of his heart in terms of what he (normally) does on the cricket field but to have a couple of 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. 

"It was very, very special from 'Wags', one the team appreciated. We needed him out there and he delivered."

Williamson likens spot in WTC final to "carrot" after dramatic win 

A spot in the World Test Championship final is like that "carrot in mind" which keeps pushing teams to give their best, said Williamson after his side beat Pakistan.

New Zealand are placed third in the WTC while the top two teams will fight it out for the championship.

"Absolutely, we want to play the World Test Championship final, and we saw it in the final session today, when there was that carrot in mind," said Williamson at the post-match presentation.

"But in Tests, you know that it's all about going moment by moment, and that's what you play with. We did make the declaration that if the wicket doesn't deteriorate, it would have given them a chance. They had some positive players at the crease, and some more to come."

Williamson said WTC means "you give yourself a chance to win a game, but also lose it."

"It gave the viewers that spectacle, with three possible results going into the final session. I think we saw similar characteristics on this wicket when we played against England.

"We are playing in our country, but on surfaces which are varied. With the wind and the sun, it started to offer a bit more," he said.

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New ZealandNeil WagnerPakistan tour of New Zealand, 2020/21New Zealand vs Pakistan - 1st Test - Pakistan in New Zealand, 2 Test Series, 2020/21Kane Stuart Williamson

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