New Zealand piled the pressure on Pakistan and , at the close of play on day two, of the 2nd Test between New Zealand and Pakistan , at the Hagley Oval, Christchurch today, they were 286/3 – with Kane Williamson 112* and Henry Nicholls 89*still at the crease.
New Zealand 286/3 (85)
At the Close – Pakistan were 297 all out
Match Report – Salim Parvez
Williamson reigns supreme to stun Pakistan
An undefeated 215-run stand between New Zealand skipper and world number 1 batsman Kane Williamson (112 not out) and Henry Nicholls (89 not out), held the centre stage in their team’s domination on Day 2 of the second Test against Pakistan at Hagley Oval, Christchurch. In a more kinder batting conditions, stark comparison to day one, Williamson it seemed had made the right decision to insert Pakistan, whose first innings total New Zealand are only behind by 11 runs.
Pakistan camp had a real buzz for after battling hard to put 297 on the board, their bowling attack was keen to roll over New Zealand batsmen and come back in the two-Test series. The new ball was handed to Shaheen Afridi and Mohammad Abbas, with the sun beating down on a lovely morning and the crowd settling on the grass bank. New Zealand openers made a cautious start with 11 runs in the first 8 overs and at drinks had taken it to 38-0 in 14 and Pakistan were left to rue a run out opportunity missed by Afridi.
The opening stand was worth 52 when Faheem Ashraf trapped Tom Blundell leg-before for 16, with a one that nipped back into the right-hander. Few balls later, without any addition to the score, the other opener Tom Latham, looking good for his 33, edged Afridi, to be caught at slip off a smart reflex rebound by Haris Sohail. Pakistan were in business. Lunch was taken at 66-2 and straight after it, the wicket of Ross Taylor for 12 to Abbas, was a reward for his persistent line and length.
After capturing the third New Zealand wicket at 71, Pakistan bowlers now eager to get through the middle order, needed to be at their sharpest as Williamson refused to give them a sniff. In left-handed Nicholls, who was caught behind off Afridi’s no-ball on 3, he found an able partner that was up to the challenge, posed by the opposition in the middle session.
The pair not only blunted the edge of the Pakistan bowlers but also took full advantage of the two – Naseem Shah and debutante Zafar Gohar – to keep a good scoring rate as well. After taking the tea at 145-3, both Williamson and Nicholls, broke free to punish anything loose and added 141 runs in the final session and have now entered the record books as New Zealand’s highest fourth wicket stand in Tests against Pakistan.
At his most sublime though not error-free, Williamson brought up his 24th Test hundred, first at this venue, off just 140 balls with 15 fours and Nicholls, despite straining his calf which required a physio in the last half an hour, will be ready to resume his battle on Day 3, eleven runs away from his seventh.
Pakistan bowlers are still searching for the whole hearted support of the fielders as Williamson on 82 edged Naseem between Shan Masood. One can see New Zealand camp’s determination to keep their proud record of not losing a Test to an Asian sub-continent team at home, since December 2009 when Pakistan’s Mohammad Asif with nine wickets to his name in the match, took his side to a 141-run win at Wellington. Very little chance, it seems, of that feat being repeated by the present Pakistan bowling line-up.