Cricket: Pakistan collapse gives Black Caps hope in third test

By Niall Anderson

BJ Watling celebrates the wicket of Babar Azam. Photo / Photosport
BJ Watling celebrates the wicket of Babar Azam. Photo / Photosport

The Black Caps don't have to look far for good omens as they fight for victory in the third and deciding test against Pakistan.

Back at the scene of their first test victory in Abu Dhabi, the Black Caps trailed by 74 runs at the conclusion of both teams' first innings – the exact deficit they faced in the first test. And – just like the first test – they're in that position thanks to a major Pakistan batting collapse.

At 286-3, Pakistan had cruised into a first innings lead thanks to Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq, who added 201 for the fourth wicket, with both batsmen bringing up chanceless centuries.

62 runs later, Pakistan were bowled out. After struggling in their first 44 combined wicketless overs, spinners Ajaz Patel (2-100) and Will Somerville (4-75) first broke the pivotal partnership, then ripped through a weak tail order to drag the Black Caps back into the test.

However, by stumps, the Black Caps had lost both openers, with Jeet Raval being trapped lbw for a duck - his first in test cricket - before a moment of madness from Tom Latham saw him aggressively sweep Yasir Shah, picking out Haris Sohail at deep square leg who took an excellent low catch.

Kane Williamson and nightwatchman Somerville saw the visitors through to stumps at 26-2, still trailing by 48 runs, but considering even a lead of 150 would put pressure on Pakistan in the fourth innings, they at least hold a slim chance of repeating their first test victory.

Will Somerville runs out a comically shoeless Yasir Shah. Photo / Photosport
Will Somerville runs out a comically shoeless Yasir Shah. Photo / Photosport

Of course, the Black Caps needed a miraculous comeback to win that test, and they'll be hoping to be in a situation where such a similar method of victory isn't required.

But, for that to be even a discussion worth having is a notable turnaround from how things were tracking, after Ali and Shafiq bossed the Black Caps bowlers to put Pakistan in control.

Resuming the day at 139-3, the pair dictated the first session, aggressively playing Pakistan out of possible peril and placing them in a dominant position.

Ali looked untroubled as he continued a superb series, adding a classy 134 to the 81 he compiled in the second test, and his one-man effort in the first test, where he made 65 in the eventual losing effort.

His 15th test century came off 210 balls, and was much-needed after he arrived at the crease with Pakistan at 0-1. Shafiq proved the perfect foil, starting slowly before building into the innings for his 12th test ton, also looking at ease in his 104 as the pair combined to annoy the Black Caps bowlers for over two-and-a-half wicketless sessions.

Trent Boult and Tim Southee showed a bit of spark with the second new ball, but any edges they could muster didn't go to hand, and they were forced into heavy workloads as they battled away on the slow surface.

Just when things were looking grim for the Black Caps, their spinners finally came to the party. Having resorted to bowling to legside fields, Somverville's first test wicket saw the trap work, with Ali caught at short fine leg, before Patel trapped Shafiq lbw shortly afterwards.

The spinners then had their fun with Pakistan's tragic tail, ending up taking six of the last seven wickets to fall. The other was a runout – it wouldn't be a Pakistan cricket extravaganza without a comical runout – as Yasir Shah lost his shoe, and his wicket, when he couldn't reach his ground coming back for a second run.

From 286-3, Pakistan were all out for 348, and suddenly the Black Caps had renewed hope for a first away test series victory over Pakistan in 49 years.

The dismissals of Latham and Raval significantly dimmed those hopes, and victory would still require a resolute fight from the Black Caps batsmen, and a strong fourth-innings bowling performance.

Just like the first test.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW
Stats provided by

© Copyright 2018, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (cfusion) on production apcf05 at 15 Dec 2018 14:10:10 Processing Time: 905ms