Wellington: In the first innings of the first Test between New Zealand and Pakistan in Bay Oval, Neil Wagner fractured his toe while facing Shaheen Shah Afridi.
However, the New Zealand workhorse bowled in the second innings despite sustaining the injury and went on to pick up the crucial wicket of Fawad Alam to open the floodgates for the hosts to run through the lower order.
Alam and Mohammad Rizwan had shared a stand of 165 for the fifth wicket to not just prop up the innings, but also give Pakistan a good chance of staving off New Zealand. At that stage, Wagner dismissed Alam with the short ball and followed it up by removing Faheem Ashraf to leave Pakistan in further trouble.
The effort that went behind the wickets left his skipper Williamson full of praise for Wagner.
People talk about the size of his heart, perhaps, in terms of what he does on the cricket field, but to have a couple of broken toe… he was in a lot of pain and he was going off and having injections and numbing his foot and we were trying to use him when the injection was taking effect – it was kind of unique for all of us, Williamson said.
His appetite and motivation to be out there and try and make a difference for the team is huge and we haven’t seen it any bigger than the effort he’s put in across this Test match. It had an impact on his ability to operate at 100 per cent, but he still came in and got the breakthrough like he does for us so often when he’s at full strength. It was a very, very special effort from Wags, one that the team appreciated. We needed him out there and he delivered, he added.
Williamson also observed that the injury gave extra motivation for Wagner to bowl long spells. He’s quite difficult to take off. He did say, ‘When I get my injections I’m much better off bowling long spells, OK.’ I was like, ‘What’s different, Neil?’ He loves it, he loves having the ball in his hand and it’s very difficult to get it out.’