Southee’s six keeps New Zealand in front of Pak­istan

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS - HAMIL­TON:

Tim Southee bagged six wick­ets as New Zealand took a 55-run lead over Pak­istan on a rain-short­ened third day of the sec­ond Test in Hamil­ton yes­ter­day. Only rookie bats­man Babar Azam was able to cope with New Zealand’s chief strike bowler and he was left stranded on 90 af­ter run­ning out of part­ners as Pak­istan fought their way back into the match.

Pak­istan, af­ter re­sum­ing the day on the ropes at 76-5, clawed their way to 216 in re­ply to New Zealand’s first in­nings 271. New Zealand only faced one dot ball in their sec­ond in­nings be­fore rain sent the play­ers from the field for the third and fi­nal time in a day when only 38 overs were pos­si­ble.

Southee was given a pound­ing in his first three overs of the morn­ing and was re­moved from the at­tack af­ter yield­ing 32 runs. But he came back to wrap up the tail and fin­ish with fig­ures of 6-80, his third-best bowl­ing per­for­mance.

“There was still a bit of swing at that stage and I went back to what we’ve done well for a num­ber of years,” Southee said of his suc­cess­ful sec­ond spell. “You’ve got plans you put in place for cer­tain bats­men and it’s nice when they do come off.

“There’s a lit­tle bit there for the new ball, but once the ball gets older it gets a lit­tle bit eas­ier to bat but there will still be a lit­tle bit of as­sis­tance through­out.”

While the 54-Test vet­eran head­lined the New Zealand bowl­ing per­for­mance, it was Azam in only his third Test who brought Pak­istan back into the game.

The 22-year-old was con­sid­ered a spe­cial tal­ent at age-group level and an­nounced him­self on the in­ter­na­tional stage last month with three con­sec­u­tive cen­turies in Pak­istan’s one­day se­ries against the West Indies.

He fol­lowed with a 69 in his Test de­but against the West Indies and looked set for his maiden Test hun­dred when the Pak­istan in­nings ended in Hamil­ton.

“I’m thank­ful the lower or­der gave some re­sis­tance but it was un­for­tu­nate I could not com­plete my 100,” he said.

Azam also drew praise from Southee who said the way he han­dled the seam­ing con­di­tions was promis­ing for Pak­istan.

“For a guy to come here in his first Test tour of New Zealand and play the way he’s played is a good sign he can play in con­di­tions that are for­eign to them,” Southee said.

Pak­istan put on 124 for the loss of three wick­ets to be 200-8 be­fore the day’s first rain stop­page just be­fore lunch, with Azam pa­tiently col­lect­ing runs while Sar­fraz Ahmed (41) and then So­hail Kahn (37) at­tacked the bowl­ing.

Un­like the rest of the Pak­istan top or­der who were caught be­hind try­ing to slash out­side the off stump, Azam waited for loose balls in an in­nings which lasted 277 min­utes and he faced 196 de­liv­er­ies.

Ahmed sur­vived two chances in his 74-run stand with Azam. He was dropped on 19 by Henry Ni­cholls at mid­wicket, and Tom Latham missed a di­rect shy at the stumps when Ahmed was trapped in the mid­dle of the pitch.

The ar­rival of Neil Wag­ner to the at­tack ac­counted for Ahmed when he was caught by Jeet Raval at sec­ond slip. So­hail had no trou­ble with Wag­ner’s stock short-pitched de­liv­ery, re­peat­edly pulling him to the bound­ary in a 67-run part­ner­ship with Azam.

How­ever, when Southee re­turned to find a bet­ter line in his sec­ond spell he found the edge of So­hail’s bat and wick­et­keeper BJ Watling com­pleted the dis­missal.

Wa­hab Riaz faced only five balls be­fore he was lbw to Colin de Grand­homme leav­ing Southee to re­move Mo­ham­mad Amir for five and Im­ran Khan for six.

De­spite Azam’s bold in­nings to keep Pak­istan in the game, the out­come may ul­ti­mately be de­cided by the weather with more rain fore­cast over the next two days and New Zealand only need­ing a draw to take the se­ries af­ter win­ning the first Test. — AFP

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