Third Test: New Zealand trail Pakistan by 48 runs

By Rajive Singh

ABU DHABI 6 December 2018: New Zealand are feeling the heat in Abu Dhabi at the end of day Three of the Third Test of the Oye Hoye 2018 Pakistan vs New Zealand Test Series presented by Brighto Paints, after losing two wickets whilst chasing Pakistan’s lead of 74 runs.

The third day started with an impactful session from Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq, racking up 85 runs before lunch with New Zealand desperate to break the partnership but to no avail.

The pair aided Pakistan to finish the session on 224 for three, trailing by 50 runs with seven wickets remaining in the innings at lunch. The dynamic duo then kept things going once they returned to the crease despite the onslaught from refuelled bowlers Ajaz Patel and Tim Southee.

The new ball, introduced in the 81st over, was certainly starting to prove its worth, as both Patel and Southee started to get impressive movement from the ball in both directions. Yet from the 91st to the 100th over, Ali and Shafiq continued to pile on the runs, ending the 100th over on 127 and 79 respectively; it was apparent the Black Cap bowlers began to look a little deflated.

So stepped up Test debutant Somerville and Trent Boult in the 105th and 106th overs to see what damage they could do and it wasn’t before long for Somerville struck, celebrating not only the removal of Azhar Ali, but also his maiden Test wicket. Ali left the crease on an impressive 134 runs.

Somerville scalps his first Test wicket

Shafiq remained undeterred and batted strongly for the next several overs, before eventually reaching his 12th Test century, which coincidently brought up Pakistan’s 300.

No sooner had the celebrations happened, Patel powered the ball onto Shafiq’s pad for a clear lbw to dismiss him for 104. Patel and Somerville were now running on full steam and made the next four and half overs a torrid time for Babar Azam and Captain Sarfraz Ahmed.

It was only eight runs later that Somerville bowled Azam in a rather unusual fashion, with the ball striking both his shoes before dislodging the bails. Bilal Asif replaced Azam with the hope of bringing some calm with his Captain at the crease as Pakistan sat on 312 for six.

Steady batting from the next few overs saw the pair claw away at some much-needed, stabilising runs.

Luck was also on their side after an lbw was overruled in the 125th over. Asif looked as if he was on his way back to the changing room, but the ball-tracking system showed it was actually missing leg, leaving Asif to face another ball.

It was Patel’s turn to strike in the 126th over, as his fiery delivery to Asif was caught superbly by Taylor at slip taking Pakistan to 333 for seven. The next five overs saw Asif’s replacement Yasir Shah and Sarfraz steady the ship, with some low scoring overs, but Will Somerville had other plans.

Shafiq congratulates his partner

His meandering ball invited Ahmed to hit and run, but his compatriot Shah set off running and lost a shoe. This momentary slip cost him some crucial pace before eventually losing his wicket. To make matters worse, his replacement, Hasan Ali, was dismissed only five balls later with his off stump paying the price.

The final wicket of the innings was that of the Pakistan Skipper, as Ahmed was taken at short mid-wicket by Jeet Raval off the bowling of Somerville, bringing the first innings haul of Pakistan to 348 all out, leaving them with a slim but significant lead of 74 runs.

New Zealand looked confident as they came to the crease for their second innings. However, the tourists soon lost Jeet Raval for a duck in the fourth over, when Afridi struck Raval plumb on the pads, and in spite of a review from New Zealand, Raval was consigned to the pavilion to watch the rest of the innings play out.

Kane Williamson and Tom Latham looked to close the evening session without losing any further wickets, but as the Abu Dhabi sun set, Haris Sohail dived onto a Latham ball off the bowling of Yasir Shah, bringing the Kiwis to 24 for two.

Somerville and Williamson closed the day out in the middle with the Kiwis currently sitting on 26 runs for two, trailing Pakistan by 48 with significant work to do in the fourth day of the final Test to secure a Black Cap’s victory.

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Dubai Gazette