New Zealand 309 for 6 (Conway 122, Latham 71, Salman 3-55, Naseem 2-44) vs Pakistan
Agha Salman struck thrice with his offbreaks, while Naseem Shah’s encouraging reverse swing continued to trouble New Zealand, who lost five for 45 in the final session after dominating play across the morning and afternoon. The visitors had piled up 119 and 107 in the first two sessions for the loss of one wicket. The last one fetched them only 83 runs with the loss of five more.
Devon Conway hit 122 out of New Zealand’s total of 309 on the first day, riding his luck on the way to a fourth Test hundred, and continuing on a fantastic start to his Test career after becoming the fastest from his country to 1,000 runs in the format during the first Test of the tour. He also made up after falling for 92 in the first match.
Play in the evening began with Abrar Ahmed bowling his 15th over in a row – albeit separated by the tea break. Naseem then beat Kane Williamson’s outside edge on the first ball of the second over after resumption, only for replays to show a faint tickle. That was a sign of things to come, as Naseem kept clocking 140kph while reversing the ball against both Williamson and Conway.
But it was Salman who struck first, getting the ball to dip and turn away from Conway, who went jabbing and edged behind to Sarfaraz Ahmed in the 63rd over. Next over, Naseem pitched one perfectly on the fuller side of a length on fourth stump, with Williamson’s outside edge also landing in the gloves of Sarfaraz, who went low and tumbled in front of first slip to complete the grab.
That left New Zealand with virtually two new batters at the crease in Henry Nicholls and Daryl Mitchell, with the latter happy to take a good stride forward and getting across off stump to try and negate the movement Naseem got it. Naseem tried going around the wicket – and with it, wide of the crease – to the left-hander Nicholls, as both he and Salman tied the two batters down.
That is when Mitchell fell to a classical offspinner’s dismissal, missing his clip across the line when Salman tossed one up outside off and got it to turn in through bat and pad, and hit off stump. With the ball having split its seam, the umpires changed it immediately after.
But Pakistan stuck to Hasan Ali and Salman, as they kept the scoring in check, with the fast bowler preferring to go short, and the offspinner teasing the batters with loop. Salman got his third just seven deliveries before the second new ball was due, although credit for that would go to Babar Azam.
Standing at slip, Babar was the only one who reacted and half-appealed after Nicholls tried to slash a short ball outside off turning away from him. He opted for the review at the last second after umpire Aleem Dar ruled it not out and UltraEdge showed a little snick behind to Sarfaraz.
That was the fourth of Dar’s 12 decisions overturned throughout the two Tests on this tour. And New Zealand slid further when Abrar, expensive throughout the day, hit Michael Bracewell flush in front to get him for the third time in as many occasions in the series. The visitors were six down, as Tom Blundell and Ish Sodhi saw them off to stumps.
Earlier in the day, the visitors were in the driver’s seat across the first two sessions, losing only Tom Latham for 71 when Naseem had sharply angled one into the left-hander at high pace to break a strong opening stand of 134 – Latham and Conway’s second successive century stand for the first wicket – in the 36th over. Naseem had conceded just six runs in that five-over spell when he bowled three maidens, even as Abrar kept leaking runs at the other end. Having gone for 26 in five overs before lunch, Abrar was taken for another 41 in his first six overs after the break, with Conway confidently driving and whipping the spinner each time he erred in line or length.
But Conway also had some fortune going his way throughout. Pakistan had reviewed a not-out verdict by Alex Wharf when Conway, on 39, was beaten by one that angled in off a good length, only for the ball projected to be going over the stumps. When he was on 86, an outside edge fell short of the lone slip and two overs later, when Conway was on 89, Hasan induced an edge to gully, where Saud Shakeel spilled it after diving to his right. Conway finally reached his hundred in the 52nd over, when he flicked Mir Hamza between mid-on and midwicket, as New Zealand piled on the misery on Pakistan.
After opting to bat, New Zealand raced to 54 in the first 11 overs before a quiet period slowed them down. Latham also was ruled out lbw by umpire Wharf, before he used the DRS to reverse it, having inside edged it onto his pads.
Eventually though, the day ended in fine balance, as Pakistan hit back in the evening session, with New Zealand losing their way from a dominant 234 for 1 to only a stable 309 for 6.