The leg-spinner, now in his element following a hip bone injury in April, is only 5 short of the magical 200 wickets and is set to pour more misery on the Kiwis in the final Test at Abu Dhabi. He is also only the second Pakistani after Imran Khan, the present Prime Minister, to take 14 wickets in a Test.
Pakistan 418 - 5 dec (Haris Sohail 147, Babar Azam 127*; Colin de Grandhomme 2-44)
New Zealand 90 (Kane Williamson 28*; Yasir Shah 8-41) and 312 (Tom Latham 50, Ross Taylor 82, Henry Nicholls 77; Yasir Shah 6-143)
Result - Pakistan won by an innings and 16 runs
With Dhabi wicket now offering turn and bounce to the slow bowlers, New Zealand’s hopes rested on the third-wicket stand between Tom Latham and Ross Taylor. Pakistan did well, to claim both wickets before lunch on the 4th day. Latham was out caught behind off Hasan Ali, shortly after reaching his fifty but it was Taylor’s dismissal that hurt the Kiwis more for after narrowly escaping, his second attempt of sweeping off-spinner Bilal Asif that led to a top edge, landing safely in the hands of Yasir Shah. Taylor’s 82 off 128 balls with 7 fours and a six, did involve risk but his wicket was a key breakthrough nevertheless.
The lunch time score of 222-4, with New Zealand 106 runs behind,and expecting Henry Nicholls (31) and J.P.Watling (16), expected to repeat their battling partnership of Abu Dhabi that proved crucial in their team’s astonishing come back to win the opening Test by just 4 runs.
Four consecutive 50+ stands meant Pakistan bowlers had to work hard on a wicket that has behaved reasonably well thus far. A quite passage of play after lunch suggested New Zealand batsman were determined to take this contest into the final day. The loss of three quick wickets set them back a bit. Yasir got rid of Watling, leg-before. The next two dismissals of Colin de Grandhomme and Ish Sodhi, both paying the price of poor shot selection of Hasan Ali and Yasir Shah, respectively, was disappointing from tourists’ point of view.
When on 67, Nicholls, reached 1000 runs in his 20th Test match and was patiently defying the bowlers and leading the fightback. Tea was taken at 297-7 with Nicholls on 74 and the tourists, still trailing by 31 runs. Pakistan claiming 3 wickets for 75 in the second session and surprisingly Mohammad Abbas, close to being wicket-less, in three consecutive innings. Quite amazing.
Soon after tea Hasan, with that wicket-taking knack, went through the defences of the Nicholls, with a dour 77 off 187 balls with 7 fours and a six to his name and now back in the pavilion. Yasir with an untiring spell of 10 overs before tea, wrapped up the proceedings with a final spell of 4-32 off 13.5 overs as Pakistan beat New Zealand by an innings and 16 runs, with almost 4 sessions to play. The timing of his declaration and by enforcing follow-on – only second by a Pakistan captain out of 8 opportunities in the last 15 years – Sarfraz Ahmed, had a much better Test as a leader of a team, one-down in the series. Good come back by Pakistan after a narrow defeat in Abu Dhabi in the first Test of the series.
©Cricket World 2018