New Zealand ended Day 2 firmly in control, just shy of Pakistan’s first innings score. Led by Kane Williamson's ton, the Kiwi batsmen negotiated a tough early period and picked up the scoring rate as the day went on.
Brief scores New Zealand 286/3 ( Kane Williamson 112*, Henry Nicholls 89, Mohammed Abbas 1 for 37, Shaheed Afridi 1 for 45) trail Pakistan (297 all out) by 11 runs.
While Pakistan’s fast bowlers were persistent, they couldn’t make many inroads. The final session was wicketless, with New Zealand set to extend their advantage on Day 3.
New Zealand started their innings strongly, as openers Tom Blundell and Tom Latham put up a 50-run opening stand. However, Pakistan’s fast bowling quartet gave a great show as they kept the New Zealand batsmen on their toes.
The wicket was much better to bat on than Day 1 and the Kiwi batsmen did well to cautiously play out the morning session. Then a double-wicket blow reduced New Zealand from 52/0 to 52/2, as Faheem Ashraf and Shaheen Afridi sent the openers back in quick succession.
Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson then saw New Zealand through to lunch as Pakistan continued to ask questions with their fast bowling. In the next session, the bowlers picked up from where they left off, as Mohammad Abbas and Shaheen Afridi looked dangerous.
While Kane Williamson saw off the threat, Ross Taylor couldn’t. He nicked a length ball to slip to give Mohammad Abbas his first wicket of the match. Pakistan could have had another one soon, but luck favoured Henry Nicholls twice in a single Shaheen Afridi over.
The New Zealand batsman was caught behind but got a lifeline after Afridi overstepped the crease. He then got saved again after a thick outside edge fell just shy of the gully fielder.
With Pakistan’s tails up, skipper Mohammad Rizwan surprisingly brought the part-timers into the attack. The period gave New Zealand the confidence they needed, with both Williamson and Nicholls changing gears to attack Shan Masood and Zafar Gohar.
Kane Williamson was the main beneficiary, moving to 40 off 88 at Tea from 10 of 48 as New Zealand went into the final session as the scoreboard read 145/3.
New Zealand dominate the final session
As batting conditions eased, New Zealand put their foot on the pedal. Williamson continued to dominate and the visitors lost the plot as the day unravelled, with Kane Williamson becoming the first centurion of 2021. The Kiwi skipper took just 35 balls to move from 50 to 100 as he brought up his 24th Test ton.
The skipper could have been back to the pavilion soon after, but Williamson just about managed to sneak his bat in after a direct hit appeal called for a third umpire review. Henry Nicholls continued to play with fire with captain Rizwan dropping a regulation catch as Shaheen Afridi dropped to his knees in dismay.
There will be some concerns about Nicholls’ fitness, as the batsman limped off the field at the end of day’s play. Pakistan were left to rue the self-inflicted damage on Day 2, and with Williamson and Nicholls going strong, it remains to be seen whether they can make a comeback on Day 3.Published 04 Jan 2021, 12:11 IST