New Zealand boss opening session to close in on historic win



New Zealand are five wickets away from a historic victory © AFP

New Zealand’s assault early on the final day set up the series finale superbly for the visitors as Pakistan were set 280 to secure the series in Abu Dhabi. At Lunch, the hosts were 55 for 5, still needing 225 to win in the 58.2 remaining overs in the day.

Pakistan got off to a positive start – dismissing Kane Williamson on the very first ball of the day. The New Zealand captain was trapped in front by Hasan Ali as his 283-ball fight came to an end. The wicket, however, brought more misery for them as the day progressed. Colin de Grandhomme attacked from the get-go while Nicholls too joined the party after completing his ton. Pakistan’s ploy to take the new ball at the very start of the day meant the visitors were able to score easily with the ball coming on.

The left-hander got to his ton in the 107th over as New Zealand scored nine runs per over to get to 353 for 7. De Grandhomme smashed 26 off 19 while Nicholls ended unbeaten on 126. Yasir Shah dismissed de Grandhomme and BJ Watling on consecutive deliveries to stall the flow just a bit but Nicholls ensured the visitors got to the target they would have hoped for at the start of the day.

New Zealand continued the good work but couldn’t prevent a minor blip in their quest for a first Test series win in Asia since 1984. Mohammad Hafeez, playing his last Test innings, was dropped by Williamson at gully even before he, or Pakistan, could open their account. Tim Southee, though, got back and dismissed the right-hander for 8 after getting one to sneak past the defence.

De Grandhomme had Azhar Ali caught behind as Pakistan wobbled early on in the chase. Haris Sohail took on the left-arm spin of Ajaz Patel and managed to hit a six but a nervous poke against William Somerville saw him edge one to first slip. That wasn’t the end of Mickey Arthur’s misery though. Off the very next ball, Asad Shafiq gloved one to the wicketkeeper down the leg side to leave the team reeling at 43 for 4.

Babar Azam survived an LBW decision against him as he had it reversed after the replays showed an outside edge but Ajaz had Imam ul Haq caught at short leg in the final over of the session. New Zealand bossed the session and will now be licking their lips to seal a historic series win.

Brief scores: New Zealand 274 & 353/7 dec (Kane Williamson 134, Henry Nicholls 126*; Yasir Shah 4-129) lead Pakistan 348 & 55/5 (William Somerville 2-4) by 225 runs.

© Cricbuzz


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