Trent Boult ran through the Pakistan top order in a menacing new-ball spell that continued New Zealand’s domination in the Sharjah Test after their last two wickets had stretched the lead to 339. With five more sessions left in the game, the quick strikes allowed New Zealand giant strides towards a series-equalising win.
The Pakistan batsmen would have assumed survival on the flat pitch was possible seeing the New Zealand lower order tackle pace and spin comfortably, but they were in for a rude shock against the moving ball. Boult was twice clipped for boundaries in his first over but it was matter of time before he got his lines right. He pinged Shan Masood’s pads with an inswinger on the last ball of the first over only for the umpire to deem it not out. The review showed how close it was, the ball hitting the leg stump almost flush. It took him only two more balls to get a wicket though. This time it was an outswinger taking the outside edge of Masood’s bat and flying to third slip.
Boult then changed the line of attack to round the stumps to make two telling blows: Azhar Ali left one only to see it swing back sharply and take his off stump and Younis Khan was similarly surprised by the big swing to be dismissed lbw first ball. With just five runs in the Test, it was a rare failure for Younis in a season when he hasn’t done much wrong. The dismissal prompted New Zealand to employ four slips and a gully but Pakistan managed to see through the session without further damage.
Earlier in the morning, Mark Craig registered his second Test half-century, reaching the landmark with a six – the 20th of the innings – off the 71st delivery he faced. The tally of sixes further inflated to 21, the most by any team in a Test innings, as Craig smashed Mohammad Hafeez over long-off. By the time he was dismissed, Craig had added another 45 with Ish Sodhi – who struck the 22nd six of the innings – in quick time and the total had crossed 680, New Zealand’s previous best Test score that came against India earlier this year.
The innings could have ended on 689 as Sodhi stepped out to Hafeez and missed the ball, but Sarfraz Ahmed, the wicketkeeper, chose to appeal for a caught behind rather than effect a simple stumping. New Zealand could only add one more run, though, as Sodhi top-edged a sweep to Younis at first slip.