Pakistan cautious after losing Babar early on day two, reach 377 for 8
New Zealand captain Tim Southee reacts after removing Babar Azam in the very first over of the play on Tuesday at National Stadium Karachi.

New Zealand gave a strong response as the two openers propelled their team to 165 without any loss after Pakistan posted 438 in their first innings in the Karachi Test on Tuesday.

Tom Latham and Devon Conway were batting at 78 and 82 respectively at the close of play on day two as the Pakistani bowlers failed to break the partnership which forced even Babar Azam, the captain, to bowl three overs.

Earlier, Agha Salman scored his maiden Test hundred, scoring useful runs with the tail to guide Pakistan to 438 in the afternoon session.

In the morning session, Pakistan batted cautiously after losing their captain Babar Azam in the very first over. They started their innings from 317 for 5 and reached 377, after losing three more batters and scoring 60 runs in 30 overs at a rate of 2 runs per over.

One of them was Nauman Ali who survived 75 balls for his 7 runs in a 54-run stand. He fell to short delivery from Neil Wagner as a mistimed pull could only reach the safe hands of Michael Bracewell at short square leg.

Meanwhile, Mohammad Wasim’s stay at the crease wasn’t long as Ish Sodhi claimed his wicket with Pakistan reaching the score of 375. Wasim was also caught behind by Blundell as he attempted a premediated ramp shot on a googly, which produced an edge.

It was Sodhi’s first Test wicket in four years as he is more focused on the white-ball cricket and have been permanent member of the Kiwis playing XI both in ODIs and T20Is.

It was Tim Southee who removed his counterpart after an addition of just one run in the overnight score. He was caught by wicketkeeper Tom Blundell after a good length delivery bowled on the fifth-stump line produced a faint edge.

However, Pakistan’s last four wickets fetched 120 runs, with Salman scoring 99 of those in partnerships of 54 with Nauman Ali, 39 with Hamza and 24 with Abrar. He racked up his last 49 runs from just 45 balls, smashing ten fours to ensure Pakistan crossed the 400-run mark.

During the post-lunch session, Pakistan 65 more runs as Salman batted with responsibility and confidence in company of the last two tail enders –  Mir Hamza and Abrar Ahmed. The innings came to an end when Southee got Salman LBW after he had scored 103 runs.

Southee was the most successful bowler with three wickets with two each for Michael Bracewell, Ish Sodhi and Ajaz Patel. Neil Wagner also chipped in with a scalp.

The Kiwis are in Pakistan for a two-Test series with the second match also shifted to Karachi due to foggy weather in Multan. It would be followed by a three-match ODI series with all the matches scheduled to be held in Karachi.

On Monday, Pakistan had ended the day one in a strong position as Babar Azam became the Pakistani batter with the most runs — 2,436 — in all formats of cricket in a calendar year.

Babar broke the record of former captain and incumbent batting coach Mohammad Yousaf, who made the record in 2006 with 2,435 runs to his name.

The national team captain played 51 innings in 44 matches in 2022 and averaged 55.30, with his highest score being 196 with eight hundreds and 17 fifties.

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