New Zealand dominated the third day from start till end. Pakistan was able to avoid follow on with Faheem Ashraf’s career-best 91 at the centre of it, stealing all the limelight in Mount Maunganui. Pakistan was eventually bowled out for 239 but the cat-and-mouse game to the follow-on score of 231, and how Ashraf delivered Pakistan past it with some help from four consecutive boundaries off Tim Southee, made for a thrilling watch.
Pakistan batting approach on the third day was absolutely rudderless. The third day is supposed to be where the pitch is at its best for batting but Pakistan went into their characteristic shell: there was hardly any impetus in the innings. Overnight, Pakistan scored 30 runs in 20 overs. That strategy could have been justified as Pakistan were trying to bat out the day. In the morning, Abid Ali and Muhammad Abbas just scored 9 runs in 12 overs and after that, both got out putting pressure back on the team. By the time it was lunch, Pakistan were reeling at 52 for 5 in 43 overs.
From reeling at 52/5, in part prompted by an unbelievable run-rate of 1.33, Pakistan were able to steady themselves with a century stand between Ashraf and Mohammad Rizwan before a run out by Mitchell Santner sparked yet another collapse. It was New Zealand’s way of unpausing the game after they controlled the proceedings with immaculate lines and lengths that saw scoreboards static for long periods of time
New Zealand will be hoping to pile on the misery tomorrow. Pakistan on the other hand would be hoping that one of their bowlers can get on a roll and produce a spell of bowling that can bring them back in the game.