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10 December 2023

Kiwis fight back in opener with Pakistan

Pakistan's Misbah ul-Haq plays a sweep shot while scoring 54, as New Zealand's Reece Young (C) and Ross Taylor look on, during day two of their first test cricket match, in Hamilton. (REUTERS)

By Reuters

Captain Misbah-ul-haq and Asad Sahfiq ground out an unbroken 128-run  partnership to resurrect Pakistan's first innings and guide  them to 235 for four at the close of play of the second day of  the first test against New Zealand on Saturday.     

Misbah built a slow and watchful 50 off 129 balls, while  the 24-year-old Shafiq was on 74, his highest test score after  he made 61 on debut against South Africa last November, to put  Pakistan in a strong position heading into day three.      

New Zealand, courtesy of a sustained period of pressure  from Daniel Vettori and Tim Southee, had captured three  wickets in the middle session to leave Pakistan struggling at  107 for four at a sun-drenched Seddon Park.

Misbah and Shafiq, however mindful another wicket would  expose the lower order to a fired-up New Zealand bowling  attack, wore down the tiring New Zealanders, patiently waiting  until they got a bad ball to hit.

The hosts, who were bowled out for 275 early on Saturday,  initially failed to capitalise on a perfect start when  Mohammad Hafeez was caught low down by Tim McIntosh at second  slip off Chris Martin in the first over of Pakistan's innings.

The bowlers, however, were then too loose and gave away  too many boundaries as Pakistan romped to 67 for one by lunch  with Taufeeq Umar on a breezy 42 not out.

However, after the lunch break the New Zealand bowlers  tightened up to snare Taufeeq for 54, Azhar Ali (24) and the  valuable wicket of Younus Khan for a quickfire 23 from 24 balls.     

New Zealand had resumed on 260 for seven but after Umar  Gul and Tanvir Ahmed provided a steady stream of short-pitched  bowling they added just 15 runs in 7.5 overs with Tim Southee  (56), Kane Williamson (50) and Brent Arnel (eight) all caught  from mis-timed hook shots.   

Tanvir finished with four for 63 while left-arm spinner  Abdul Rehman claimed three for 51 on Friday.