Pakistan stares at third straight home series loss after two for nothing

Pakistan were in deep trouble as they two wickets Thursday without posting anything on the board after New Zealand set them a 319 runs target in the Karachi Test.

Tim Southee triggered the disastrous start for the hosts as he bowled Asad Shafique on the second ball of innings’ first over. And in the third over, Ish Sodhi bowled Mir Hamza, the night watchman, which proved to be the last ball of the day.

Meanwhile, Imam-ul-Haq managed to escape the Kiwis’ attack by surviving the short stay at the crease during which he has so far faced six balls.

It means Pakistan are now staring at the prospects of third straight Test series loss on the home soil after 1-0 defeat at the hands of Australia and the 3-0 white wash – the first ever in the country – thanks to a relentless England side.      

But it was made possible only after a bold declaration by New Zealand after Southee challenged Pakistan with the run chase which is gettable, at least on the papers.

Meanwhile, no team has chased more than 314 to win a Test in Pakistan, which the home team had achieved against Australia in Karachi 1994.

Earlier in the morning, Pakistan could add just one run before Sodhi trapped Abrar Ahmed in front of the wickets to end the innings at 408, giving the visitors a 41-run lead. Saud Shakeel remained unbeaten on 125 after a marathon resistance-packed 493 minutes at the crease, hitting 17 boundaries in his maiden hundred.

Later, New Zealand declared their second innings just 10 minutes before the scheduled close of play on 277-5 after Michael Bracewell hit a career-best 74 not out and Tom Blundell 74. The pair turned the match during their match-turning 127-run fifth wicket stand.

Pakistan had the match under control when they had New Zealand struggling at 128-4 from 76-1 at lunch, removing Tom Latham (62), Kane Williamson (41) and Henry Nicholls (5).

But Blundell, dropped on 21 by wicketkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmed on the bowling of Abrar Ahmed, punished the home team with seven boundaries and a six before holing out to Agha Salman.

Bracewell, whose previous best of 49 was against England earlier this year, was also dropped on 59 by Sarfaraz off Salman. In the post-lunch session New Zealand lost three wickets in the space of 50 balls and 14 runs.

Latham was smartly caught off a miscued flick at short mid-wicket by Abrar Ahmed from fast-bowler Naseem Shah.

With the total unmoved on 114, in the next over Ahmed trapped Williamson leg-before. Hasan Ali had Nicholls caught soon after as New Zealand lost three wickets off 50 balls for 14 runs.

New Zealand were jolted in the second over of their innings when Mir Hamza bowled Conway with his first delivery. It was the first time Conway fell without scoring in his 12-match Test career.

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