ABU DHABI: New Zealand’s left-arm quick Trent Boult took four wickets to help bundle Pakistan out for 227 despite Babar Azam’s fighting fifty on the second day of the first Test at the Sheikh Zayed International Cricket Stadium on Saturday.
Kane Williamson and Jeet Raval then batted solidly to reduce the deficit to 18 runs.
Batting in the middle-order, Babar scored a solid 62 to help Pakistan to a 74-run first innings lead in the thus-far low-scoring Test. Pakistan remain on top but New Zealand will be pleased with their fightback.
Having been bundled out for just 153 in their first innings, New Zealand desperately required a strong bowling performance to stay in contention, and the bowlers did not disappoint.
On a wicket that has been typically dry but offered some assistance to the quicks, left-arm swing bowler Boult exploited conditions to lead New Zealand’s fightback with four key wickets.
Colin de Grandhomme and Ajaz Patel chipped in with a couple of wickets apiece to bowl Pakistan out for 227, but could not help but concede a sizeable lead.
In response, New Zealand got to the close of play at 56-1, with Williamson and Raval holding fort after Tom Latham was dismissed for a golden duck by a cracking Hasan Ali in-dipper.
The day had begun with Pakistan at 59-2. Overnight batsmen Azhar Ali and Haris Sohail did not last too long at the crease, and Pakistan were looking in trouble at 91-4.
Haris departed in soft fashion for 38, flicking a leg-stump full toss by Ish Sodhi straight to short mid-wicket — adding just 16 to his overnight score. Moments later Azhar, who resumed his innings on 10, fished for one outside off to fall for 22 from an away-swinging Boult delivery.
Asad Shafiq and Babar then joined forces for an excellent 83-run partnership to put Pakistan in the lead. In fact, while they were at the crease it seemed like Pakistan would conjure up an insurmountable position, but Boult then produced an in-swinging peach to have Asad chopping on for 43.
Soon Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed played a sweep off Patel straight into the hands of backward square leg. The debutant was to enjoy another wicket in that very spell with Bilal Asif missing a big heave and getting stumped.
Babar then switched gears to play more attacking shots to build the advantage and went past his fifty. On 62, he was strangled down the leg-side by Boult, only managing a slight feather off an attempted flick for wicketkeeper BJ Watling to take a fantastic catch.
Raval and Williamson then batted solidly to eat into the deficit. They took the odd scoring opportunity with glee, but remained largely sedate in their approach as they brought down Pakistan’s lead to a paltry 18 runs. These two will be crucial to New Zealand’s chances of posting a score that could potentially make life difficult for Pakistan in the fourth innings. — icc-cricket.com
TOSS: NEW ZEALAND
NEW ZEALAND FIRST INNINGS 153 (Williamson 63, Nicholls 28; Yasir 3-54, Haris 2-11, Abbas 2-13, Hasan 2-38).
PAKISTAN FIRST INNINGS (overnight 59-1)
Imam c Williamson b Colin 6
Hafeez c Williamson b Boult 20
Azhar c Watling b Boult 22
Haris c Latham b Sodhi 38
Asad b Boult 43
Babar c Watling b Boult 62
Sarfraz c Wagner b Patel 2
Bilal st Watling b Patel 11
Yasir c Watling b Wagner 9
Hasan Ali c Taylor b Colin 4
Abbas not out 0
Extras (B-4, LB-4, NB-1, W-1) 10
Total (All out, 83.2 overs) 227
Fall of wickets: 1-27, 2-27, 3-91, 4-91, 5-174, 6-177, 7-195, 8-220, 9-227.
BOWLING: Boult 18.2-6-54-4, Colin de Grandhomme 13-6-30-2, Patel 24-4-64-2, Wagner 18-5-30-1 (1nb, 1w), Sodhi 10-0-41-1.
NEW ZEALAND 2ND INNINGS
Raval not out 26
Latham b Hasan 0
Williamson not out 27
Extras (B-3) 3
Total (1 wkt; 22.4 overs) 56
Fall of wickets: 1-0.
Still to bat: Taylor, Nicholls, Watling, De Grandhomme, Sodhi, Wagner, Patel, Boult.
BOWLING: Abbas 6-4-5-0, Hasan 4-1-12-1, Yasir 8-1-21-0, Sohail 1-0-1-0, Asif 3-0-13-0, Hafeez 0.4-0-1-0.