Pakistan V New Zealand 2nd Test Day 2 - A Test of survival for New Zealand
Pakistan, slowly but surely is tightening its grip in the second Test of the series in Dubai.
Now expecting the bowlers to deliver and compliments the hard work of the batsmen. The two left-handed New Zealand openers – Jeet Raval and Tom Latham - successfully negotiated the 9 overs, both of pace and spin, with confidence by scoring 24 runs, before close of play on the second day of Test at Dubai, facing an uphill task tomorrow.
Pakistan 418 - 5 dec (Haris Sohail 147, Babar Azam 127*; Colin de Grandhomme 2-44)
New Zealand 24 - 0
At the Close of Play - New Zealand trail Pakistan by 394 runs with 10 wickets remaining
The opening session today proved fruitless for New Zealand as Pakistan pair of Haris Sohail and Babar Azam remained intact, on 110 and 52 respectively. Batting partnerships are so vital in Test match cricket and the two young men have the potential not only to cement their places and serve the country for many years to come.
The manner in which the two batsmen played, revealed Pakistan’s plan to try and bat only once on this wicket, which they executed so often and successfully, in the days of Misbah-ul-Haq’s reign as captain till last year. At times it might seem dull, pointless and even outdated but it works when the top six batsmen are determined to occupy the crease for as long as it takes, only punish loose ball and have the confidence to accelerate when required. In other words aim to bat for two days and leave three days and nine sessions for its bowlers to win a Test match. In the two hours’ play in the morning session, Pakistan scored just 67 runs to reach 274 for4, with Haris looking impregnable, having faced 309 balls to bring up his second Test hundred.
New Zealand, now facing a daunting first innings total and with a prospect of third wicket-less session, slowed down the game with defensive bowling line and field placing. Only 20 runs were scored in the 10 overs before the tea break.
Babar, having twice been dismissed in the 90s, was happy to go into the tea break on 99, tantalizingly close to a maiden Test hundred. His partner Haris, now having batted for eternity, on 143. The fifth-wicket stand, now having grown to 182 runs with New Zealand attack not looking penetrative enough to take 10 wickets on this surface, was set to carry on for a while.
Pakistan score of 356 for 4 at tea on the second day, was perhaps at least 50-75 runs short of what most of the top international sides would expect its batsmen to have scored by this stage of the match. At present Pakistan think-tank, led and influenced more by head coach Mickey Arthur than captain Sarfraz Ahmed, would be least bothered by any criticism. A Test match in his mind is a five-day affair and would be treated as one with no urgency applied. This plan surely can only work when the wicket does not break for the first three days which it seems is the case with this particular one in Dubai.
The two batsmen, stepped out after tea, in overcast conditions, both approaching personal landmarks. Haris perished, three runs short of 150, in the third over of the last session. His second Test hundred was a monumental innings for he occupied the crease for more than 9 hours, faced 421 balls and hit 13 fours. In the same over Babar, in his 32 Test innings, finally got to his maiden hundred, a tuck off his pads of Boult for two. A hundred off 215 balls with 10 fours and a six, reflects the fact that Babar was happy to work for his runs and lay platform for a 400plus first innings total for Pakistan.
The arrival of Sarfraz inevitably led to increase in scoring rate for that is the only way he plays. The present situation was ideal for Pakistan captain to play his natural game with perhaps nothing to lose and his unbeaten 30 off 45 balls was rapid compared to the rest of the batsmen. He showed his intention from the word go and along with Babar added 58 runs in 15.5 overs, by the far the most purposeful phase of Pakistan innings which closed at 418-5 declared, though without any hint of it. Babar finished on an unbeaten 127 off 263 balls with 12 fours and 2 sixes. An important milestone of his career as he proves his pedigree by remarkably batting at different positions in each of the three international formats: Test, ODI and T20I.
Pakistan - Imam ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez, Azhar Ali, Haris Sohail, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed(c)(wk), Bilal Asif, Yasir Shah, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Abbas
New Zealand - Jeet Raval, Tom Latham, Kane Williamson(c), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling(wk), Colin de Grandhomme, Ish Sodhi, Neil Wagner, Ajaz Patel, Trent Boult
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