Wil­liamson and Watling boost NZ af­ter Yasir shines

Yasir is aim­ing to be­come the fastest man to reach 200 Test wick­ets

Gulf Times Sport - - FRONT PAGE -

New Zealand skip­per Kane Wil­liamson hit a fight­ing half cen­tury while BJ Watling bat­ted with pa­tience to de­lay leg-spin­ner Yasir Shah’s bid to be­come the fastest to 200 wick­ets on the first day of the third and fi­nal Test in Abu Dhabi yes­ter­day.

Wil­liamson missed out on a 19th Test cen­tury but Watling was un­beaten on 42 as New Zealand closed on 229-7, a mea­sured re­cov­ery af­ter be­ing re­duced to 72-4 by a triple strike from Yasir in the first ses­sion.

Yasir be­gan his 33rd Test need­ing five wick­ets to be­come the fastest man to reach the mile­stone of 200 Test wick­ets.

The record is cur­rently 36 Tests, set 82 years ago by Aus­tralian legspin­ner Clar­rie Grim­mett.

Yasir man­aged 3-62 but was then thwarted by the fifth wicket stand of 104 in 249 balls be­tween Wil­liamson and Watling.

He failed to take any more wick­ets in the last two ses­sions and still needs another two wick­ets to hit the 200-mark and claim the record.

Wil­liamson struck seven bound­aries but these were the bright points in a day when de­fence came first.

The nor­mally ro­bust and ag­gres­sive Kiwi cap­tain curbed his at­tack­ing in­stinct as he at­tempted to carve out a first in­nings that might give his side some lever­age in the match.

The scor­ing rarely got above two an over.

Watling also dug in and the pair bat­ted right through the mid­dle ses­sion.

Wil­liamson passed 50 in a Test for the 46th time but he was not able to con­vert his in­nings into another hun­dred.

Hav­ing reached 89 off 176 balls, he mist­imed a clip off Hasan Ali shortly af­ter tea and found a glee­ful Asad Shafiq pouch­ing the catch at short mid­wicket.

Off-spin­ner Bi­lal Asif took over from Yasir, claim­ing Colin de Grand­homme for 20 and Tim Southee for two to fin­ish with 2-57.

But Watling kept one end in­tact through his pa­tient near­four hour bat­ting, hit­ting only one boundary in his 180-ball dis­play of self-de­nial.

With both teams need­ing a win to seal a se­ries which is cur­rently tied at 1-1, Yasir was the key and the leg-spin­ner in­duced a mini-col­lapse in the morn­ing as the Ki­wis slipped from 70-1 to 73-4 at lunch.

Yasir trapped opener Jeet Raval leg be­fore with a faster one for 45. Raval re­viewed but ball­track­ing showed it would have hit leg stump.

With his next ball, Yasir clean­bowled Ross Tay­lor as the bats­man went back but com­pletely missed the ball.

Henry Ni­cholls saved the hat-trick but shortly af­ter he at­tempted to sweep but was bowled around his legs.

Yasir, whose 14 wick­ets helped Pak­istan level the se­ries in Dubai, has 25 wick­ets in the se­ries so far.

It was teenage left-arm pace­man Sha­heen Shah Afridi, mak­ing his Test de­but as a re­place­ment for in­jured medium pacer Mo­hamed Ab­bas, who gave Pak­istan their ini­tial break­through and claim his first Test vic­tim.

The 18-year-old nipped one back sharply to rap opener Tom Latham on the pads.

Pak­istan re­viewed the on­field not out de­ci­sion and were re­warded when ball-track­ing showed the ball would have can­noned into the stumps.

New Zealand, who won the first Test by four runs in Abu Dhabi, brought in fast bowler Tim Southee and off-spin­ner Will Somerville in place of Neil Wag­ner and Ish Sodhi.

New Zealand cap­tain Kane Wil­liamson (C) plays a shot dur­ing the first day of the third and fi­nal Test match against Pak­istan at the Sheikh Zayed In­ter­na­tional Cricket Sta­dium in Abu Dhabi yes­ter­day.

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