After Yasir Shah became deadly for the Oceanians one more time, New Zealand batsman Kane Williamson tried to keep hold on, reports ESPN.
At the end, New Zealand have finished their first day at 229 with three wickets in hand.
In a session of proper Test cricket, New Zealand abandoned all other concerns but the defence of their wickets. The run-rate dropped like a stone, but they weren’t bothered, and if the game looked like it wasn’t the most engaging, that wasn’t Kane Williamson’s problem, or BJ Watling’s. The pair scrapped their way through the 32 overs in the middle session, adding 72 runs along the way. Most important of all, they have the asterisk next to their name that denotes their continued presence at the crease after tea, to build on a scorecard that now reads 145 for 4.
Even scoring at more than 2 per over in the session was a climb from where the run-rate was at one point: from overs 20-44, New Zealand added 45 runs to their total, going at under 1.50. In the second half of the post-lunch session though, Williamson began to capitalise as the bowlers’ lengths drifted more regularly, and brought up another plucky half-century. He was unbeaten on 71 by tea, but it was altogether slower going for Watling.
The wicketkeeper batsman has been around the New Zealand setup for almost a decade now, and you can see why. Often, he has played innings with complete disregard for his own reputation or instincts, with his reserves of concentration seemingly never running low. He had just 14 runs from 98 balls, but in simply hanging around, he provided Williamson an anchor around which to build his own innings. It is not the first time he has done so, and it’s unlikely to have been the last.
In the morning, it was Yasir once again who landed bruising body blows to New Zealand in the last 20 minutes before lunch, undoing much of the hard work of Jeet
Raval and Williamson in the previous hour.
This time, the carnage wasn’t quite as extensive as it had been in Dubai, but Raval, Ross Taylor – who fell for a first-ball duck – and Henry Nicholls had joined Tom Latham in the pavilion by the time the session ended.
But in the middle part of the session, New Zealand were going along nicely, with a healthy run-rate combining with confident strokeplay as the session veered towards the visitors. Williamson and Raval negotiated the spinners early on adroitly, but once Yasir struck to break that partnership, he was unstoppable once more. The three wickets this session put him just two short of 200, all but certain to become the fastest man to do so.
In the second session, it was a slightly different story, with the pair now at the crease far more adept at neutralising Yasir, and at times an equally threatening Bilal Asif, who may play an increasingly crucial role as the pitch deteriorates. Hasan Ali came back for a potent second spell, while Shaheen’s return salvo didn’t quite have the same bite to it. It might have seemed hard to picture a couple of hours ago, but with a partnership looking to wear down Pakistan by stumps today, New Zealand might even have headed into tea the more content of the two sides.
Score (Day 1): New Zealand – 212/7 (Williamson 89, Yasir 3/56)