New Zealand captain Kane Williamson scored a fighting half century on a turning wicket Monday and rallied his team to 229-7 on the first day of the third and final Test against Pakistan. Williamson’s 89 off 176 balls was the cornerstone of New Zealand’s revival after leg-spinner Yasir Shah’s (3-62) triple strike had left the visitors reeling at 72-4 before lunch.
BJ Watling, who added 104 runs with Williamson for the fifth-wicket stand, defied Pakistan for more than four hours to remain unbeaten on 42 off 180 deliveries, hitting a solitary boundary in his patient knock. Williamson and Watling dug in well and denied Pakistan success in the middle session before the home team got three wickets after tea to check New Zealand’s progress.
Fast bowler Hasan Ali finally broke the (1-46) century partnership when Williamson was caught at short mid-wicket. The New Zealand captain used his feet well against the spinners and hit seven fours before falling to Hasan’s reverse swing. Colin de Grandhomme (20) was smartly held by Asad Shafiq in the leg slip only a ball after surviving a stumping attempt by Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed off Bilal Asif’s (2-57) offspin. Tim Southee, playing his first Test match of the series, then top-edged Asif before debutant Will Somerville (12 not out) successfully overturned an lbw decision against the off-spinner and saw off the day with Watling.
Asif could have dented New Zealand after lunch but Watling was dropped by Imam-ul-Haq at forward short leg as Pakistan couldn’t make further inroads after Shah’s demolition in the first session. Williamson completed his half century off 109 balls with three fours when he drove Asif to the covers for three runs and looked comfortable against seamers and spinners before he was undone by Hasan.
Earlier, Shah had the wickets of Jeet Raval (45) and Ross Taylor (0) off successive deliveries before Henry Nicholls (1) played on to the leg-spinner after Williamson won the toss and elected to bat. Shah playing in his 33rd Test match needs two more wickets to become the quickest bowler in Test history to reach 200 wickets.
Australia leg-spinner Clarrie Grimmett holds the record after taking his 200th wicket in his 36th Test in 1925. Pakistan struck early through debutant Shaheen Afridi (1-43) when the left-arm fast bowler had Tom Latham (4) leg before wicket in his third over.
Onfield umpire Paul Reiffel adjudged Latham not out but Pakistan had the decision overturned through television referral as the replays showed the ball would have crashed into the middle and leg stump.
Shah’s 14-wicket haul had earned Pakistan a resounding innings and 16-run victory in the second Test, which leveled the series at 1-1. And New Zealand’s batsmen continued to struggle against Shah’s nine overs in the first session at the same venue, where Williamson’s team won the first Test narrowly by four runs last month.
The leg-spinner had Raval leg before wicket off a delivery which came back in to the lefthander, ending a 46-run second-wicket stand. Taylor was clean bowled off the next delivery, which didn’t rise above shin height.
Nicholls denied Shah a hat trick but in the next over was clean bowled as he dragged the ball back onto the stumps while attempting a sweep shot as New Zealand lost three wickets for two runs.