Pakistan 76 for 5 (Babar 34*, Southee 3-26) trail New Zealand 271 (Raval 55, Watling 49*, Henry 15*, Sohail 4-99, Imran 3-52) by 195 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Tim Southee bowled a fuller length than any of Pakistan’s seamers had managed © AFP
A devastating new-ball burst from Tim Southee followed by two wickets in two balls from Neil Wagner left Pakistan gasping for breath at the end of the second day in Hamilton. New Zealand began the day badly, slipping to 119 for 5 before their lower order hauled them to 271, and ended it in a commanding position, with Pakistan five down and trailing by 195.
Seddon Park is Southee’s home ground in domestic cricket, and he showed exactly how to bowl at this venue, hitting a much fuller length than any of the Pakistan seamers – including Sohail Khan, who took four wickets – had managed. He slanted one across Sami Aslam, who played for swing when there was none, and nicked to second slip. He brought Azhar Ali half-forward and made him follow the deceitful curve of his outswinger. Then he floated up a full, wide tempter that Younis Khan chased fatally, leaving Pakistan 12 for 3 in 8.5 overs.
Babar Azam, seeming to read length quicker than any of his team-mates, got right behind the line of the ball in defence, and punished anything loose, particularly anything cuttable or on his pads, while moving to an unbeaten 34. For a while it seemed as if Asad Shafiq would stay with him till stumps, as he counterattacked his way to 23, hitting four fours including three in one over from Colin de Grandhomme.
But he went after a full, wide one from Wagner, playing with an angled bat, and dragged the ball onto his stumps. Next ball, the debutant Mohammad Rizwan hooked straight to long leg, leaving Pakistan 51 for 5. Babar and Sarfraz Ahmed saw them through to stumps, putting on an unbroken 25 for the sixth wicket. A huge responsibility will rest on their shoulders at the start of day three, with one of the longer tails in world cricket to follow them.
New Zealand, on the other hand, boast a more-than-useful lower order, which rallied around the adhesive BJ Watling to rescue them after Pakistan’s seamers had taken three wickets for 42 runs at the start of the day’s play.
De Grandhomme began the turnaround with a 55-ball 37 that dominated a sixth-wicket stand of 51 with Watling. Never really moving his feet too much, de Grandhomme showed a pair of quick hands to play some sensational shots, including a shovel-pull off Imran Khan and a pair of back-foot punches between mid-off and extra-cover off Mohammad Amir. He moved to 37 off 54 balls before falling to the first ball after lunch, nicking Imran to the wicketkeeper.
When Sohail slanted one across Mitchell Santner to have him caught at second slip by the feline Younis, New Zealand were 203 for 7, but their resistance was by no means extinguished, as the next two wickets added 67.
For perhaps the first time in the match, Pakistan seemed to miss the legspin of Yasir Shah, with their all-seam attack looking a little one-dimensional as the green Seddon Park pitch seemed to ease out under a largely cloudless sky. Southee, backing away from his stumps against Wahab Riaz’s short balls, made a mess of Azhar’s field placements – which at one point included a third man so fine he could ostensibly be called a long stop – before Sohail foxed him with a back-of-the-hand slower ball that spun like a googly.
Matt Henry, trusting his eye and flat-batting three fours in 11 balls, added 31 with Watling before spooning Amir to mid-off in the second over after tea. Imran then had Neil Wagner caught at second slip to finish with three wickets, leaving Watling stranded one short of a half-century. Compact in defence as always, Watling punished any width, whether off the front or back foot, picking up five of his six fours with either the cover-drive or the cut.
With the sky blue rather than the dark grey of day one, there was less swing available to Pakistan’s quicks on the second morning. Perhaps as a result of this, all of them sought to hit the deck harder, in an effort to maximise seam movement.
The day’s first strike came at a vital moment for Pakistan. Ross Taylor, continuing to profit from a switch to a more side-on, upright stance, was scoring at comfortably over a run a ball, and he had just stroked Amir to the cover boundary to bring up his fifty partnership with Jeet Raval. Three balls later, at the start of the fifth over of the morning, Sohail got one to nip back into him from just short of a good length and clip his inside edge through to the wicketkeeper as he looked to force the ball into the covers.
At the other end, the left-handed Raval seemed utterly sure of his off stump when the ball was angled across him, but less so against Amir’s left-arm over angle. He had survived one uncertain poke in the first over of the match, when Sami Aslam put him down at first slip off Amir. The same bowler endured the agony of a near-replay in the ninth over of the second morning, when a near-identical poke from Raval ended up with Aslam, diving to his right this time, shelling another straightforward chance at first slip. This time, Raval was batting on 40.
Replacing Sohail, Imran went for two early boundaries in his spell, Raval bringing up fifty with the first one, a drive to the left of mid-off. Then he moved around the wicket, looking to emulate Amir’s angle. It only took three balls from that side of the stumps for Imran to strike, Raval jabbing away from his body, uncharacteristically, and nicking to first slip, where Aslam had given way to the debutant Mohammad Rizwan, who pouched the chance safely by his hip.
Henry Nicholls, stuck on 8 for 18 balls, including a maiden from Imran bending the ball back into him from around the wicket and severely testing his judgment of off stump, seemed to release a bit of pressure when he pulled Wahab for four. That ball, however, would eventually play a part in his dismissal. Having pushed him back with a succession of short balls, Wahab bowled one full, outside off stump, inviting the drive, and got it to straighten off the seam to find Nicholls’ edge.
Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo