Pakistan seize control of Abu Dhabi Test
Twin five-for from spinner Yasir Shah and pacer Hasan Ali gave Pakistan the upper hand in the first Test match against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi.
Earlier on Day Three, New Zealand were in command courtesy 112-run stand between Bradley-John Watling and Henry Nicholls, and 86-run Kane Williamson-Jeet Raval partnership but Yasir-Hasan combo felled six wickets for 29 runs restricting a fourth innings target to 176.
In reply, Pakistan openers Imam Ul Haq and Mohammad Hafeez reduced the deficit with carefree eight overs of batting at close of play.
New Zealand's destiny was in their own hands while resuming on an overnight score of 56. Trailing Pakistan by 18 runs, skipper Kane Williamson and Jeet Raval had the right intent and approach. Raval struck Yasir Shah for boundaries as Kiwis erased Pakistan's first innings lead. There were no early wickets and pacer Mohammad Abbas was replaced by Hasan. But skipper Sarfraz Ahmed's persisted with Yasir and it paid off as the leg spinner clipped the prized wicket of Williamson (37). New man Ross Taylor didn't waste time and blasted Yasir for three boundaries on way to New Zealand's 100.
Just when Pakistan seemed to have lost way, Hasan dealt a double blow. The pacer trapped Taylor with a swinging delivery and three balls later had Raval edge to Sarfraz.
But a phenomenon often seen in this Test match, there was pendulum-like momentum shift. New batters Bradley-John Watling and Henry Nicholls once settled kept scoreboard ticking and took odd boundaries to push the lead. The determined New Zealanders played the waiting game and both reached their fifties.
However, in the post tea session, Yasir turned tables in three consecutives overs. In 90th over, the spinner had Nicholls (55) caught behind while sweeping. In his next over, Yasir had Colin De Grandhomme leg before wicket. In 94th over, he trapped Watling (59) and then took his fifth wicket by pinning Neil Wagner. New Zealand dived from 220 for five to 227 for eight.
Hitting the final nails, Hasan bowled Ish Sodhi and Trent Boult to complete his maiden five-wicket haul. New Zealand managed 249 runs from 100.4 overs.
Chasing 176, openers Imam and Hafeez are unbeaten with 37 runs. A tricky fourth day looms as Pakistan need 139 more on a turning wicket.
Watling said New Zealand had aimed to set 250-run target to defend but hope to put pressure through early wickets on fourth day.
"This is going to be a tough ask. We would have liked bit more of lead but there's enough out there. There's turn there, from straight and rough. It is bit lower and slower, and few cracks. We will come back with plenty of energy and good attitude to put Pakistan under pressure."
Meanwhile, Hasan is confident that with two days left in the match batsmen will deliver the goods.
"I just kept bowling on a tight line. I have done lot of hard work and it paid off now. I will dedicate my maiden five-for to bowling coach Azhar Mahmood. He is responsible for improvements seen in my bowling," Hasan added.
New Zealand first innings 153
Pakistan first innings 227
New Zealand 2nd innings (overnight 56-1)
Raval c Sarfraz b Hasan 46
Latham b Hasan 0
Williamson b Yasir 37
Taylor lbw b Hasan 19
Nicholls c Sarfraz b Yasir 55
Watling lbw b Yasir 59
De Grandhomme lbw b Yasir 3
Sodhi b Hasan 18
Wagner b Yasir 0
Patel not out 6
Boult c Hafeez b Hasan 0
Extras: (b 4, nb 1, w 1) 6
Total: (all out; 100.4 overs) 249
Fall: 1-0, 2-86, 3-105, 4-108, 5-220, 6-224, 7-227, 8-227, 9-249.
Bowling: Abbas 22-10-31-0, Hasan 17.4-3-45-5 (1nb, 1w), Yasir 37-6-110-5, Sohail 7-1-12-0, Asif 14-3-43-0, Hafeez 3-1-4-0
Pakistan 2nd innings
Imam-ul-Haq not out 25
Mohammad Hafeez not out 8
Extras: (b4) 4
Total: (no loss; 8 overs) 37
Still to bat: Azhar Ali, Haris Sohail, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed, Hasan Ali, Bilal Asif, Yasi Shah, Mohammad Abbas
Bowling: Boult 3-0-16-0, de Grandhomme 3-0-15-0, Patel 1-1-0-0, Sodhi 1-0-2-0