SHARJAH - Skipper Brendon McCullum hailed New Zealand's "not so easy" series-levelling win in the third Test against Pakistan on Sunday in the wake of the tragic death of Phillip Hughes. "It certainly wasn't easy," admitted McCullum. "It was a very tough period. We are nowhere as affected as the guys back in Australia, but at the same time, cricket is a community ... it is a fraternity and we felt we lost one of our own."

"It hit the guys pretty hard and we tried to stay as close as we could as a group. We tried to spend a lot of time together and tried to talk through stuff and share one another's thoughts," said McCullum. "It felt incredibly hard to focus on the game and still hard to talk about the game. But we will look back upon this performance in time and we will be really proud of what we have been able to achieve," said McCullum.

McCullum said New Zealand have progressed well in Tests. "I think from the low of being bowled out for 45 against South Africa, we could only go up," said McCullum of their slump in Cape Town last year. "What it allowed us to do was strip things right back to what was important for us, how we wanted to be known as a team, how the country wanted us to play and the traits they wanted to see in those representing New Zealand -- like a team that never gives up, and if they do get beaten, it is very hard to beat them."

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul Haq was disappointed at the state of the Sharjah pitch. "We cannot do anything about it," said Misbah. "We asked for a turner and everybody has seen what sort of wicket this was because we wanted this Test to be decided and we asked for a turning pitch and I don't know what happened."