Ajaz Patel was literally floating after the Black Caps captured one of the most dramatic and memorable test cricket wins over Pakistan in Abu Dhabi.

"I was in the middle of that huddle and my feet weren't touching the ground," Patel said, remembering the moment the test match was sealed and his team-mates swarmed around him. "It's something really special – a dream come true and it means the world to me and everyone else as well."

Patel, who became the fifth New Zealander to take a man of the match award on debut, took a five-wicket bag to lead New Zealand to a miraculous four-run win.

In a Black Caps dressing room full of laughter and song, Patel was sage enough to realise it was an unusal scene for a New Zealand side to celebrate a win away from home.

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"Winning here against these guys – a lot of people are telling me it's not always like this but I'm going to cherish this day. The response has been ridiculous and it hasn't fully sunk in yet."

Patel had to wait an anxious minute to for the third umpire to confirm his fifth wicket – Pakistan's top-scorer Azhar Ali – was a match-winner. "That last review – honestly, my heart skipped a beat."

New Zealand captain Kane Williams described the win as the "best in recent memory" and among the best in his career.

"One of the characteristics we hold very dear is our attitude whenever we had to get back into the game, be it with the bat, ball or in the field throughout these four days," he said.

"I think the fighting attributes of this team really shone through, certainly today. It's important to build on a number of parts to go into the next game, for sure."

It was a test in which Pakistan always seemed to be on top but they never fully slammed the door on the persistent Kiwis. The final day was typical – with Pakistan chasing a modest 176 to win, New Zealand made three early strikes before Pakistan knuckled down again and seemed to edging towards a victory that would continue a recent run of outstanding results in 2018, a year in which they'd been unbeaten in tests and featuring dominant wins over England in Australia in their most recent series.

[Read more: Key numbers from the Black Caps' miracle test win over Pakistan]

But Neil Wagner claimed the vital wicket of Asad Shafiq (45) on the stroke of lunch to end an 82-run stand for the fourth wicket and send the hosts to the break on a downbeat note.

With 46 runs needed and six wickets in it should still have been a stroll for Pakistan but they lost their last six wickets for 24 runs in a post-lunch period punctuated by a series of loose shots and some rogue running.

When it came to the crunch, with Pakistan needing 15 runs with two wickets in hand, the dimunitive Patel lifted his game to another level to become an instant hero. His match-winning delivery to trap Azhar Ali leg before wicket was perfectly pitched on leg stump before straightening to hit the befuddled batsman in line with the stumps.

"It certainly was dramatic," Williamson said. "Throughout the four days, both teams were put under pressure. I think at the end of the day it was a great advertisement for test cricket. The wicket was challenging and both teams had to fight hard, and certainly Pakistan had the upper hand after day one.

"To get through the four days and stay in the match and come out with this result must obviously rank as one of our best wins. In theory it was an old-fashioned test match, really slow in terms of scoring.

"The guys had to really fight hard for the runs and that partnership [112 runs between BJ Watling and Henry Nicholls] was huge for us to get a lead, even though it wasn't a big lead. But it still kept us in the game. I guess when you look back, winning by such a small margin means every contribution in terms of runs scored and runs saved on the field did matter."

Williamson always maintained hope against the odds, especially as wickets had tended to fall in "clumps".

"I'm not sure why it was challenging to start as a batsman but we knew if you're able to keep the pressure on, who knows what might happen?"

It hasn't been an easy road to the top for Patel who had been a fast bowler his whole life but switched to spin for fun in a few club games.

Under the guidance of former test off-spinner Dipak Patel he became the highest wicket-taker in first-class cricket for three years straight, named the Men's Domestic Player of the Year at the 2018 New Zealand Cricket Awards, and leading the Central Stags to winning the Plunket Shield title with 48 wickets at 21.52, repeated success at domestic level set the foundation for his Black Caps selection earlier this year.

"I'd like to think I've waited a while," Patel said. "I'm 30 now, so I've put a lot of work in to be able to put myself in this position so it's quite rewarding to be able to contribute and really get one across the line for the country."

When asked what the team did during the break to come back strong and topple Pakistan, Patel said it was just about keeping things simple.

"I think it's the New Zealand way to believe anything is possible and we went out there in true character to us and we went out and played the Kiwi way."