Day two of the deciding third Test between Pakistan and New Zealand was a slow, drawn-out affair as New Zealand fought back to keep the match on an even keel in Abu Dhabi.
New Zealand added 45 runs to their overnight score before being all out for 274, which they would probably have taken after their day one position of 72-4. BJ Watling scored his 16th Test half-century as he guided the tail to their respectable first innings score, his 77 not out coming off a monster 250 balls (4×4) as he gritted it out in the series decider.
Bilal Asif quite literally cleaned up the tail, taking the wickets of all five batters to pick up his second Test five-for. His figures of 30.1-4-65-5 (econ 2.15) were backed-up by Yasir Shah’s 3-75 (econ 1.82).
Pakistan lost both openers early as they were reduced to 17-2, both caught by opening bowler Tim Southee off the bowling of his opening partner Trent Boult.
Azhar Ali played a steady hand to play out the rest of the day, ending on 62 not out off 169 balls (4×4), with help from Haris Sohail (34 off 91) and Asad Shafiq (26 not out off 85) as Pakistan ended the day on 139-3 after 61 overs.
Boult ended the day with figures of 2-39 (econ 2.78) and Southee 1-27 (econ 2.25), while the 34-year-old Test debutant William Somerville was economy personified with his right-arm off-breaks. Somerville returned figures of 12-5-16-0 (econ 1.33) in his first tilt at Test cricket to follow up his stoic maiden Test innings of 12 off 99 balls (S/R 12.12), his score in keeping with his first-class batting average of 12.73. The ‘senior statesman’ of the New Zealand side has only played in 18 first-class matches ahead of his Test debut, making his first-class debut back in 2005.
With three days left to play, the match is evenly poised, with neither side looking ready to make the first move with the bat. However, with plenty of time in hand, it certainly looks as if a result will be on the cards.
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