Black Caps hope history repeats
Who truly believes they can predict what will happen in the final two days of a capricious test cricket series between New Zealand and Pakistan?
Smart money says Pakistan will triumph holding the stronger position after three days.
Yet all we can do is to contemplate the Black Caps trailing by 48 runs with eight second-innings wickets in hand, and refer to recent history as a potential guide and wait for this three-test contest to play out in Abu Dhabi.
At stumps on day three of the third test, New Zealand were 26-2 in their second innings after Pakistan were dismissed for 348 in their first innings.
When Pakistan’s Azhar Ali (134) and Asad Shafiq (104) combined to put on 201 for the fourth wicket, New Zealand’s hopes of a series win looked forlorn.
Realistically, the Black Caps are still up against it, as legspinner Yasir Shah seeks to become the quickest bowler to take 200 test wickets with one more scalp.
But some irresponsible batting by the Pakistan lower order only left them with a lead of 74 on the first innings – the same margin Pakistan had in the first test at the same venue.
In that match, Pakistan were set the seemingly simple task of scoring 176 for victory in their second innings, only to be stunningly dismissed for 171.
After working their way into a dominant position midway through the test, Pakistan lost 7-62 to give the Black Caps a sniff.
New Zealand off-spinner Will Somerville ended his first test innings with the ball with figures of 4-75 off 36 overs, bowling well to the tail.
Eighteen-year-old debutant Shaheen Shah Afridi removed opener Jeet Raval for a duck early in NZ’S second innings and fellow opener Tom Latham perished to an ill-judged sweep just before stumps.