Pakistan reaches 207-4 against New Zealand in 2nd test
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Haris Sohail and Azhar Ali produced half centuries against disciplined New Zealand bowling as Pakistan reached 207-4 on the opening day of the second test on Saturday.
Azhar made a patient 81 in 187 balls with seven fours and a six before he was run out, and left-handed Sohail overcame a shaky start to remain unbeaten on 81 off 240 deliveries at stumps.
The pair needed more than 60 overs to raise a 126-run third-wicket stand before Azhar’s dismissal in the final session after Sohail declined to go for a single and stood his ground at the non-striker’s end.
Sohail hit 10 fours that included a square-cut boundary off Neil Wagner after tea to raise his fifty as he waited patiently for loose deliveries. Babar Azam was not out on 14.
New Zealand also dismissed Asad Shafiq (12) when the batsman played a reckless stroke off left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel (1-60) and holed out at backward point before Sohail and Azam saw off the second new ball.
Earlier, Colin de Grandhomme (2-31) removed both openers inside the first hour to reduce Pakistan to 25-2 before Azhar and Sohail dug in well to defy New Zealand bowlers.
Azhar scored a fighting 65 in the first test but could not prevent Pakistan from losing by just four runs to trail the three-match series 1-0.
Sohail was initially troubled by seamers and spinners before the wicket improved for batsmen in the afternoon.
Azhar got off the mark with a streaky boundary as the ball flew in between wicketkeeper B.J. Watling and Ross Taylor in the first slip before surviving a strong lbw appeal against Trent Boult just before lunch as Pakistan crawled to 56-2 in the first session.
The gritty No. 3 batsman gained confidence after lunch and raised his half century off 100 balls when Azhar drove fast bowler Boult for the boundary before New Zealand found the breakthrough after tea.
Azhar also used his feet well against spinners Ish Sodhi and New Zealand’s first test hero Patel, whose five-wicket haul engineered Pakistan’s collapse in the second innings at Abu Dhabi.
Earlier, New Zealand dominated the opening session when both openers Imam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Hafeez scored nine runs each before being caught in the slips by Tom Latham after Pakistan won the toss and elected to bat.
De Grandhomme was persistent in testing Pakistan openers with his seam and swing bowling before he tempted Hafeez and got the outside edge in his fourth over.
Left-handed Imam couldn’t capitalize on a dropped catch — also by Latham — before the fielder made amends when he held onto an easy catch in de Grandhomme’s next over.
Pakistan kept faith in the same playing XI and surprisingly retained struggling Bilal Asif. The off-spinner took just 1-76 in the first test and was one of the three tailenders to be dismissed for a duck in Pakistan’s frenzied chase at Abu Dhabi.
New Zealand retained the winning combination which meant yet again no place for experienced seamer Tim Southee or fast bowler Matt Henry.