TURN­ING UP THE HEAT

Spin­ners Shah and Asif put Pak­istan in con­trol of de­cid­ing Abu Dhabi Test as Kiwi cap­tain Wil­liamson hits fight­ing half-cen­tury

Sport360 - - Front Page - By Shahid Hashmi @Sport360 ✉ ed­i­to­[email protected]

New Zealand skip­per Kane Wil­liamson hit a fight­ing half cen­tury while BJ Watling bat­ted with pa­tience but it was Pak­istan who gained the up­per hand on the first day of the third and fi­nal Test in Abu Dhabi on Mon­day.

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 legspin­ner Yasir Shah in the first ses­sion.

Off-spin­ner Bi­lal Asif struck twice to­wards the end of play to swing the mo­men­tum back in New Zealand’s favour

Shah 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 leg-spin­ner Clar­rie Grim­mett.

Shah 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 ag­gres­sive Kiwi cap­tain curbed his at­tack­ing in­stinct as he at­tempted to carve out a first in­nings that might give his side some lever­age. The scor­ing rarely got above two an over.

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 Asad Shafiq at short mid­wicket.

Off-spin­ner Asif took over from Shah, 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 near-four 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, Shah was the key and the legspin­ner in­duced a mini-col­lapse in the morn­ing as the Ki­wis slipped from 70-1 to 73-4 at lunch.

Shah trapped opener Jeet Raval leg be­fore with a faster one for 45. Raval re­viewed but ball-track­ing showed it would have hit leg stump.

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

Henry Ni­cholls saved the hat­trick but shortly after he at­tempted to sweep and Shah flick­ing the ball as it went through to bowl him around his legs.

Shah, 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 who gave Pak­istan their ini­tial break­through.

The 18-year-old nipped one back sharply to rap opener Tom Latham on the pads. Pak­istan re­viewed the on-field not out de­ci­sion and were re­warded when ball-track­ing showed the ball would have can­noned into the stumps.

Brief scores New Zealand 229-7 (K Wil­liamson 89, BJ Watling 42*, Y Shah 3-62, B Asif 2-57) v Pak­istan

At last: Bi­lal Asif tasted suc­cess to­wards the end of day’s play.

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