2nd Test: New Zealand Out For 403

DUBAI: Pakistan struck thrice in the morning but New Zealand’s lower order resisted in the afternoon to push the score past 400. They also kept Pakistan on the field for more than five sessions, something they didn’t have to do during their three successive previous wins in the UAE, over Australia and New Zealand.
Pakistan needed three overs at the start to remove the overnight batsmen. Corey Anderson gifted his wicket to Ehsan Adil, and Rahat Ali removed Tom Latham on his overnight score of 137. Jimmy Neesham fell to Yasir Shah after an hour of resistance, and had Rahat not dropped Craig off the same bowler, New Zealand would have lost four before lunch. Anderson had managed to scrap and survive against the second new ball on the first evening but he tried to drive his fourth delivery of the second morning and only spooned it to cover.
Latham, meanwhile, had carried on in his calm manner, leaving assuredly, and defending solidly off either foot, when Rahat produced a beauty. He made Latham play with one pitched up on off, the opener ensured he pushed straight, but his feet did not move much for once, and the slight away movement took the nick through to the wicketkeeper. The spinners set about the new batsmen Watling and Neesham with slightly more help from the surface compared to day one. The first ball from Zulfiqar Babar turned and bounced past Watling’s forward push, and the last ball of the same over squared him up and went over the stumps. Neesham was troubled by the legspinner Yasir with men at forward short leg and leg slip.
The occasional straighter ones outside off were another challenge, beating the left-hander. Watling was content to block and awkwardly block some more, but Neesham, eager to break the stranglehold, walked out to Yasir, failed to reach the pitch, and chipped a catch to midwicket. Craig swung Yasir cleanly over midwicket but skied a slog in the same over on 9, only for Rahat to overrun the ball running in from the deep, even as Asad Shafiq looked on from nearby at square leg. It was back to attrition for New Zealand till lunch.
They had managed 24 runs in 14 overs in the first hour, 28 in 15 in the second, and had still not reached 300. Pakistan reprieved Craig, on 13, again after the interval. Adil induced an edge in the first over upon resumption but the keeper Sarfraz Ahmed did not go for the ball a couple of feet away to his left. In Adil’s next over, Craig punched just short of a diving Shafiq at gully. Craig was beaten several times outside off stump, especially by Adil’s excellent lines, but he hung on.
Watling and Craig went through five successive maidens and it was only off his 78th delivery that Watling picked up his first boundary with a cut off Yasir. The fifty of the partnership came in the 24th over when Craig pulled and Watling cut Rahat for fours. Misbah-ul-Haq turned to the part-time legspin of Azhar Ali, and off his third ball, Watling failed to keep a cut down on 39.
It was Azhar’s second Test wicket after he had dismissed Kumar Sangakkara leg-before for 211 in October 2011 in Abu Dhabi. In the next over, Craig missed a pull off Babar to depart leg-before for 43. Ish Sodhi batted very competently once more and remained unbeaten on 32, and Tim Southee hit a couple of big ones before Babar ended the innings in the 156th over to finish with figures of 45-8-137-4. Pakistan were left with 19 overs to negotiate till stumps.

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