Abu Dhabi: Pakistan need another 139 to win, with all wickets intact, going into the fourth day of the first Test at the Shaikh Zayed Stadium on Monday after Yasir Shah and Hasan Ali triggered a collapse to restrict New Zealand from posting a challenging total.
At stumps, Pakistan were 37 for no loss after eight overs with Imam Ul Haq and Mohammed Hafeez on unbeaten 25 and 8, respectively.
Earlier, Yasir and Hasan both completed a five-wicket haul each to turn the match over its head after Henry Nicholls and BJ Watling had threatened to take the contest away from the hosts with an invaluable partnership of 112 runs for the fifth wicket. The visitors crumbled like a pack of cards within an hour after tea, losing six wickets for 29 runs.
“It was my first five-wicket haul and I’m extremely happy about it. I had stuck to the same simple plan set by bowling coach Ajju bhai (Azhar Mahmood). Just bowled a tight line,” said a beaming Hasan, adding that the team wasn’t in any panic situation when Nicholls and Watling was holding fort.
“We were confident of getting the breakthrough as we were bowling a tight line and not giving away easy runs. We always knew once we get one breakthrough, we will definitely come back into the match and that’s exactly what happened. Yasir bhai took three wickets in two overs and changed the course of the game,” revealed Hasan, who finished with figures of 5-45.
The contest was precariously poised going into the third day with New Zealand trailing Pakistan’s first innings score by just 18. A lot was on the shoulders of skipper Kane Williamson, known for his calm and composed batting. Williamson, resuming his innings on 27 with the team’s overnight score on 56 for one, did not last long as Yasir produced a brilliant delivery that turned enough to knock off the bail.
Ross Taylor was also in no mood to wait. He started off smashing three boundaries in the next over from Yasir but had very little answer to Hasan Ali’s pace. The feet just didn’t move and as soon as the ball rapped on to the pads, Hasan celebrated with his trademark animated destroying machine and bomb explosion act. Three deliveries later, a well-set Raval on 46 pushed at a length delivery from Hasan and Sarfraz Ahmad held on to it gleefully. In less than five deliveries, Hasan had turned the tables and the Kiwis were reduced to 108 for four.
However, Nicholls and Watling seemed to have other plans. They showed nerves of steel and waded through to lunch adding 26 and the New Zealand scoreboard read 134 for four and the lead of 60 runs. The next session saw Sarfraz try everything in his arsenal — rotated all his bowlers but under the bright sunshine, Nicholls and Watling just kept gaining in confidence.
The duo took the side to tea unscathed at 200 for four in 80 overs and the lead swelled to 126. The 112-run fifth wicket stand was finally broken by Yasir as Nicholls, trying to sweep the former, got a bottom edge and Sarfraz did the rest. Yasir, who finished with figures of five for 110, was then all over the Kiwis.
“They still need 139 runs and we need to take 10 wickets. It’s a tough ask. We definitely would have liked a bit more of a lead tomorrow. We’ll come back tomorrow with more energy and good attitude to try and put some pressure on Pakistan,” Watling said.
“I definitely would have liked 250. That would have been something to defend but you never know. We’ll try to come back tomorrow morning and take a few wickets and put them under some pressure. That would be the plan,” he added.