Pakistan pair slow NZ momentum
DUBAI: Younus Khan and Azhar Ali featured in a century-plus stand to prop up Pakistan but New Zealand claimed three wickets in the final session yesterday to stay ahead in the second Test here.
Resuming on 34/2, Pakistan enjoyed a smooth morning session but lost Younus (72) after lunch and Azhar (75) and two other batsmen after tea to finish day two on 281/6.
Sarfraz Ahmed (28) and Yasir Shah (1) were in the middle at stumps with Pakistan, who lead the three-match series 1-0, still trailing New Zealand by 122 runs with four wickets in hand.
After cheaply removing Pakistan’s openers late on Tuesday, New Zealand needed early wickets to take the upper hand but were thwarted by Younus and Azhar, who negotiated pace bowlers with aplomb and used their feet effectively against spinners.
Younus, who turns 37 later this month, was the more aggressive of the two, hitting off-spinner Mark Craig for two sixes – one over long on and the other over midwicket.
The right-hander hit the spinner for his sixth boundary to bring up his 29th test fifty in the final over before the break.
After dominating his 113-run third wicket stand with Azhar, Younus was dismissed by Jimmy Neesham, having extended the red hot form that had produced three centuries and a double hundred in his last six Test innings.
Azhar took three runs off a Craig delivery to register his 18th test fifty in 150 balls and provided a glimpse of his aggression when he stepped out to hit Craig over long off for a six.
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq (28) also looked solid at the other end until he edged a Trent Boult delivery to slip. Leg-spinner Ish Sodhi ended Azhar’s 322-minute vigil with a delivery that brushed the batsman’s pad before hitting the stumps.
Boult bowled Asad Shafiq with an incoming delivery after the batsman offered no shot but, much to Pakistan’s relief, TV replays showed the bowler had overstepped.
Shafiq, then on 21, could not make the most of it though and edged a Tim Southee delivery to Ross Taylor in the slip to depart on 44 in the day’s penultimate over. – Reuters
CAPTURING A KIWI: Zulfiqar Babar, the bowler, and Azhar Ali of Pakistan celebrate the wicket of New Zealand’s Mark Craig during day two of the Second Test at Dubai International Stadium in the United Arab Emirates.