2nd Test: Azhar Ali fifty, Haris Sohail lead Pakistan’s fightback
Azhar Ali celebrates his half-century. (AFP Image)

Senior batsman Azhar Ali struck a half century as Pakistan reached tea on 124-2 on the opening day of the second Test in Dubai on Saturday. The former captain was unbeaten on 69 while Haris Sohail was 37 not out. They had added 99 after Pakistan had lost their first two wickets for just 25 runs.

Pakistan, who won a crucial toss and batted, were hit hard by medium pacer Colin de Grandhomme’s double strike in successive overs in the first session, dismissing openers Mohammad Hafeez and Imam-ul-Haq for nine each.

Azhar, who made a valiant 65 in Pakistan’s narrow four-run defeat in the first Test, was shaky at the start as he edged the second ball he faced off Grandhomme through the slips. He then settled to play some exciting strokes, hitting seven boundaries and a six as he made his 31st fifty. Sohail had hit four boundaries by tea.

Grandhomme, preferred over the more experienced Tim Southee for the second match running, gave New Zealand an ideal start. He had Hafeez caught in the slip by Tom Latham in the eighth over. Hafeez has managed just 66 runs in six innings since scoring a comeback hundred against Australia at the same venue last month.

Imam, dropped on nine by Latham, fell in Grandhomme’s next over. Both teams fielded unchanged lineups, with Pakistan resisting the temptation of playing teenage quick Shaheen Shah Afridi.

Brief Scores: Pakistan 125/2 (Azhar Ali 67, Colin de Grandhomme 2-16) vs New Zealand.