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New Zealand progresses to solid 160-2 at tea

November 17, 2014

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Determined opening batsman Tom Latham led the way with a gritty performance on Monday as New Zealand reached 160-2 at tea on the opening day of the second test against Pakistan on Monday.

The 22-year-old Latham, who scored his maiden test hundred in last week’s 248-run loss in the first test, yet again showed his determination on a slow wicket and was unbeaten on 84, having hit nine fours off 176 balls.

New Zealand lost two wickets in the first two sessions after captain Brendon McCullum won the toss and did not hesitate in choosing to bat first in the hope of building a big total.

McCullum holed out in the deep for 43 after sharing in a solid start of 77 while Kane Williamson made 32 before playing to the wrong line of left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar. He was bowled just before tea.

Pakistan’s bowlers found it tough to break the defense of Latham after captain Misbah-ul-Haq lost his first toss in four test matches.

Latham punished the loose deliveries with some authoritative drives and sweeps, raising his half century midway through the second session off 120 balls with five fours.

While Latham looked at ease against both spinners and fast bowlers, Williamson struggled despite adding 76 runs with Latham for the second wicket.

Williamson struck his only boundary after nearly 1-1/2 hours when he glanced a Rahat Ali delivery to fine leg before he was undone by Babar.

Latham’s only blemish came on 71 when Ali found the thick outside edge of the left-hander’s bat, but wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed did not go for a low catch to his left.

Earlier, New Zealand made a healthy 82 for the loss of McCullum’s wicket in the first session.

McCullum could have been lbw to Ehsan Adil on 38, but Pakistan didn’t call for a review. The New Zealand captain pulled unnecessarily in the next over off the same fast bowler and was caught at deep midwicket.

Pakistan wasted its first review when Latham was on 11 and was hit by Adil’s delivery high on the front pad as the ball pitched in line of stumps.

McCullum batted aggressively, using his feet well after Misbah turned to his spinners inside the first hour.

He lofted legspinner Yasir Shah over his head for a boundary before lifting left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar for six over long on. His 69-ball innings contained four boundaries and two sixes.

Pakistan made three changes from the lineup which took a 1-0 lead in the three-test series by winning the first test at Abu Dhabi last week.

The left-handed opener Taufeeq Umar and Shan Masood replaced injured Ahmed Shehzad and Mohammad Hafeez, while Adil was drafted in place of rested fast bowler Imran Khan.

Umar, 33, played the last of his 43 tests two years ago against Sri Lanka. Masood played two test matches against South Africa in the United Arab Emirates in 2013 before he was sidelined.

Shehzad was ruled of the series after fracturing his skull during a career-best 176 in the first test. Hafeez pulled his hamstring during his unbeaten 101 in the second innings at Abu Dhabi.

New Zealand retained the same playing XI despite the top order struggling against spinners and the reverse swing of fast bowlers in the first test.

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