HAMILTON: A six-wicket haul from Tim Southee helped New Zealand secure a 55-run first-innings lead on third day of the second test at Hamilton.
Pakistan’s Baber Azam was not out at 90, as the young batsman rescued Pakistan from total collapse to a respectable figure. Azam stretched his overnight sixth-wicket partnership with Sarfraz Ahmed to 74, and added a further 67 with Sohail Khan for the seventh wicket before New Zealand struck back to take the last four wickets for only 24 runs, ending Pakistan’s innings 5.2 overs into the third session.
Rain ate up quite a bit of time on day three: a brief shower forced lunch eight minutes early, and only six balls were possible in the second session.
Azam had feasted on some wayward New Zealand bowling on the second evening, picking up a number of boundaries with the cut and the flick. The seamers were a lot more disciplined against him on the third morning, largely sticking to a fourth-stump line and seldom wavering from a good length. Azam fought discipline with discipline, showing excellent defensive technique and looking entirely unaffected when his partners outscored him. He looked to play in the V as much as possible, and two of his five fours on the day came in that region, glorious drives down the ground off Wagner.
The morning began with Sarfraz going after the bowling, pulling, cutting, jumping out of his crease to put the fast bowlers off their length. He hit six fours in two successive overs from Tim Southee, who was unable to find either the seam movement or the length that helped him run through Pakistan’s top order on day two, and offered up a number of short balls. Just as he entered the 40s and raised hopes of a similar innings to his match-turning 96 against Sri Lanka in Galle last year, he steered Neil Wagner straight to second slip, where Jeet Raval clung onto an excellent reflex catch.
Sohail, whose second-innings 40 in Christchurch earned him a promotion to No. 8, took over Sarfraz’s role at the crease. The seventh-wicket pair took Pakistan into the 190s before Southee had Sohail caught behind. Then, in the next over, Colin de Grandhomme had Wahab Riaz lbw. The final session began with Pakistan 201 for 8, with Azam batting on 81. Southee fed Azam a leg-stump half-volley to move to 85, but produced a beauty in his next over, extra bounce forcing Mohammad Amir to lob a catch to second slip off the glove. Southee had Imran caught in led side.