Pak­istan head­ing to­wards su­perb se­ries win

Ali, Shafiq with tons

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

Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq hit cen­turies to leave Pak­istan in com­mand of the third and fi­nal Test against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi de­spite a bat­ting col­lapse that cur­tailed their firstin­nings lead.

Azhar hit an at­trac­tive 134 for his 15th Test hun­dred while Shafiq scored 104, but debu­tant New Zealand off-spin­ner Will Somerville took four wick­ets to re­strict Pak­istan to 348 all out.

Pak­istan ap­peared set to build a huge lead be­fore col­laps­ing from 286-3 to lose their fi­nal seven wick­ets for the ad­di­tion of just 62 runs.

The 34-year-old Somerville fin­ished with 4-75 while left-arm spin­ner Ajaz Pa­tel took 2-100 and pace spear­head Trent Boult chipped in with 2-66.

That gave Pak­istan a 74-run lead – the same ad­van­tage they held in the first Test at the same venue be­fore los­ing by four runs.

New Zealand were then re­duced to 26-2 at stumps with Kane Wil­liamson un­beaten on 14 and night­watch­man Somerville on one not out to leave them trail­ing by 48 runs with eight wick­ets in­tact.

Pace­man Sha­heen Afridi trapped Jeet Raval for nought while legspin­ner Yasir Shah had Tom Latham caught, his Test 199th wicket.

Yasir needs just one more wicket to be­come the fastest to 200 wick­ets, in his 33rd Test, a record cur­rently held by Aus­tralian leg-spin­ner Clar­rie Grim­mett who reached the mile­stone in 36 Tests, 82 years ago. Shafiq said Pak­istan must limit New Zealand in their sec­ond in­nings af­ter his side failed to chase down 176 in the first Test.

“It’s al­ways nice to bat with Azhar,” said Shafiq. “But it was dis­ap­point­ing that we couldn’t get a big lead. It hap­pens in cricket and you have to give credit to the bowlers.

“We need to get them out quickly to­mor­row so that we don’t need to chase a lot of runs.”

Azhar and Shafiq put on 201 for the fourth wicket, but once they were dis­missed only Sar­fraz Ahmed (25) and Babar Azam (14) of­fered some re­sis­tance. Azhar edged medium pacer Colin de Grand­homme through the slips to com­plete his first cen­tury since May 2017 against the West In­dies in Do­minica.

He took 210 balls to reach the three-fig­ure mark, be­fore be­ing caught sweep­ing off Somerville, just be­fore tea.

Shafiq brought up his 12th Test ton with a sin­gle off Somerville be­fore falling leg-be­fore to Pa­tel.

Somerville then had Azam and Hasan Ali (nought) bowled and wrapped up the in­nings by get­ting Sar­fraz caught at mid-wicket.

Ear­lier, Azhar and Shafiq frus­trated New Zealand’s search for early wick­ets. Wil­liamson took the sec­ond new ball in the 81st over with Pak­istan placed at 213-3, but the bowlers strug­gled to ex­tract much life from a flat pitch.

Sub­lime: Azhar Ali scored his 15th Test cen­tury against the Ki­wis in Abu Dhabi.

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