New Zealand 274 (Kane Williamson 89, Jeet Raval 45, BJ Watling 77*; Yasir Shah 3-75, Bilal Asif 5-65) and 272-4 (Kane Williamson 139 *, Henry Nicholls 90*; Shaheen Afridi 2-55)
Pakistan 348 (Azhar Ali 134, William Somerville 104; Trent Boult 2-66, William Somerville 4-75)
Close of Play - New Zealand lead Pakistan by 198 runs with 6 wickets remaining
A fantastic 212* run fifth-wicket stand between Williamson and Nicholls takes New Zealand to a 198 run lead on 272/4 at stumps on day four in Abu Dhabi, setting up what will be an intriguing final day of the series.#PAKvNZ scorecard ?? https://t.co/cS8PI6iRJl pic.twitter.com/x1p0yqo0r0— ICC (@ICC) December 6, 2018
by Salim Parvez
Pakistan’s surge for a win on the fourth day of the Abu Dhabi Test was halted by Kiwis resistance, led inevitably by its captain, Kane Williamson. Not only did he bat magnificently for the entire duration of the day, his innings, one of great merit, has brought his side, right back into the game. New Zealand, with 6 wickets still in hand, lead by 198 runs, going into the final day of the deciding Test match. There is a strong possibility of Williamson batting for another 90 minutes and set Pakistan a target of around 250 in 4 ½ hours. Prospects of a dramatic final day can not be ruled out with slow bowlers, likely to take the centre stage.
Earlier in the morning session, Pakistan by claiming two early wickets had reduced New Zealand to 60 for 4, still 14 runs adrift. The first wicket to fall morning was that of nightwatchman, William Somerville, trapped leg-before playing pack to Yasir Shah. It was a significant moment in the history of Test cricket as Pakistan’s leg-spinner claimed his 200th wicket in 33 matches, three Tests quicker than ‘Clarrie’ Grimmett, who achieved the record against South Africa at Johannesburg in the 1935-36 series. Aged 45, the New Zealand-born Australian leg- spinner, was also the first to reach two hundred Test wickets. Rare footage of Grimmett, shows him bowling, wearing a cap and besides mastering leg-break and googly, he is believed to have pioneered ‘flipper’.
The 82-year old bowling record of an Australian is now in the hands of Swabi-born Pakistan leg-spinner. Yasir created history at 6.28am GMT and can justifiably take pride in a significant bowling milestone, which in view of the strong emphasis on limited-overs cricket – both ODI and T20I – and shorter international careers, is quite unlikely to ever been beaten. Since his Test debut against Australia in UAE in 2014, following off-spinner Saeed Ajmal’s suspension, the wrist spinner has developed into a match-winner for Pakistan. Today unfortunately in Abu Dhabi, he twice dropped Kane Williamson, who went on to play a decisive knock to frustrate Pakistan.
The Abu Dhabi wicket has played quite well so far, although sharp turn has been on offer since the opening day. Batting it seems have been relatively easier shown first by Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq in the 200plus stand for the 4th wicket yesterday and even better by an unfinished stand worth 212 by Williamson (134 not out) and Henry Nicholls (90 not out). Their 5th wicket partnership started in the pre-lunch period and blossomed in the afternoon. Left-handed Nicholls, was not afraid to employ reverse sweep against Yasir and no real concern in countering Bilal Asif’s sharp off spin.
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed, once again was guilty of giving the spinners extended spells and his management of the bowlers’ workload too came under question. Yasir bowled unchanged for two hours before lunch. It was hard to see the logic of both part-time bowlers, Mohammad Hafeez and Haris Sohail, not being used in short spells to rest the four main strike bowlers. Pakistan were wicket-less in the last two session which has reduced their chances of a victory. It seemed by tea time on the 4th day, Pakistan were more interested in saving the game as Sarfraz refused to take the new ball. With all four results still possible, an exciting final day is in store.
Pakistan - Imam ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez, Azhar Ali, Haris Sohail, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed(c)(wk), Bilal Asif, Yasir Shah, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi
New Zealand - Jeet Raval, Tom Latham, Kane Williamson(c), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling(wk), Colin de Grandhomme, Tim Southee, Ajaz Patel, William Somerville, Trent Boult
©Cricket World 2018