Lunch New Zealand 433 for 9 (Henry 56*, Blundell 51, Ajaz 31*, Abrar 3-142, Naseem 3-71) vs Pakistan
Tom Blundell completed his half-century and Pakistan took three wickets, but it was New Zealand’s tenth-wicket stand of 88 runs, still unbeaten, that was the highlight of the morning session of day two in Karachi.
Matt Henry, the No. 10 batter, smacked 56 runs in 59 balls to play chief entertainer while he was supported by No. 11 Ajaz Patel who stands unbeaten at 31. The pair was instrumental in New Zealand adding 124 runs for three wickets in a session that lasted two-and-a-half hours and saw New Zealand reach 433 for 9 by lunch.
The duo came together when New Zealand lost their ninth wicket with the score reading 345 and Pakistan hoping to wrap the visitors’ innings up for under 350. However, Henry took on Abrar Ahmed early with a four through midwicket before hammering Hasan Ali for four, four and six in consecutive deliveries.
When Naseem Shah bowled his return spell, Henry attacked down the ground, in the V, before depositing a shot beyond deep midwicket for six off the same bowler that needed a change of ball. He slogged Abrar for a fifth four soon after and struck his sixth boundary by slapping part-time offspinner Agha Salman through the off side.
Ajaz was more circumspect in the partnership, freeing his arm on rare occasions in his 64-ball stay. He crunched three fours but looked quite comfortable against Pakistan’s bowlers, especially to the short-pitched bowling that Pakistan tested him – unsuccessfully – with.
Henry’s fifty came eight minutes after the prescribed lunch break with the umpires extending play in the session since New Zealand were nine down. By the time lunch was taken, the pair had put on the third-highest tenth-wicket stand in the last two years.
Earlier in the day, Ish Sodhi and Blundell started proceedings, but Sodhi could not last long, falling for 11 to Naseem to a length ball that held its line and knocked off stump back.
Blundell, in No. 9 Tim Southee’s company, reached his ninth Test fifty after starting the day off with three maidens. But when Abrar dismissed him after drinks for 51 and Tim Southee for nine, Pakistan seemed to have the upper hand. However, Henry and Ajaz frustrated Pakistan, with a number of misfields and misjudged fielding efforts during their partnership. Not only did the two batters appear comfortable, but they thrived with the bat. When umpire Aleem Dar knocked the bails off to call for lunch, the New Zealand players were on their feet, applauding the Henry-Ajaz pair for their effort.