Fast bowler Neil Wagner was hailed as an “inspiration” on Wednesday after taking the pain of two broken toes to help throw New Zealand to victory in the first Test. A Shaheen Afridi yorker broke two toes in Wagner’s right foot in New Zealand’s first innings, but survived on painkilling injections and grit, bowing 21 overs in Pakistan’s first innings and 28 in the second for a four-wicket game. Wagner removed Fawad Alam for 102 pivotal in a marathon 11-over spell late on the fifth day to take away Pakistan’s hopes of a surprise victory. New Zealand eventually won by 101 runs, 27 balls from close range.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson said it was an incredible achievement, although Wagner’s heart was well known within the team.
Pakistani skipper Mohammad Rizwan said: “I just told him he is angry. He is a different boy. His attitude is everything, his aggression is very beautiful.”
Pakistani batsman Azhar Ali also said he had “enormous respect” for Wagner. “I said that to him – that’s what it means to play for your country,” Azhar said.
“I think he’s showing that and he’s an inspiration. Everyone knows he has not one but two broken toes and he’s fighting for his team.
“He gave 100 percent and maybe more than that, so I have a lot of respect for him.”
Williamson said it was a unique situation to get the most out of Wagner before the painkillers were off.
“People talk about the size of his heart in terms of what he (normally) does on the cricket pitch, except he has a few broken toes, and he’s in a lot of pain and goes away to get injections and numb his foot, and we’re trying to use it, ”Williamson said.
“It was very, very special from ‘Wags’, one that the team appreciated. We needed him and he delivered it.”
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