Tim Southee's spell with the second new ball brought the tourists back in the game © Getty Images (File Photo)
Tim Southee’s spell with the second new ball brought the tourists back in the game © Getty Images (File Photo)

Nov 19, 2014

It was a competitive day of cricket at the Dubai International stadium as the second Test between Pakistan and New Zealand hangs in balance at the end of third day. Both teams had their moments of success and with six sessions to go, all three results are possible. Chasing New Zealand’s 403 in the first innings, Pakistan finished the day at 281 for six, they are still 122 runs behind. Three wickets in the last session have given the Kiwis slight edge in the match.

Earlier at the start of the day, two overnight batsmen, Younis Khan and Azhar Ali began cautiously. New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum, started day’s proceedings with two of his main pacers, Trent Boult and Tim Southee. Both Pakistani right-handers were looked determined not to throw their wickets away. Boult and Southee tested them with some short stuffs, but Pakistani batsmen looked undisturbed.

After the initial burst with pacers, McCullum went back to his spinners. To explore the turn in the wicket, first Mark Craig was introduced in the attack in the seventh over of the day. Soon Sodhi was also called upon and both spinners were bowling in tandem.

As soon as the spinners came, Younis changed his gear. He was seen using his feet and came down the track to both Craig and Sodhi and sent the ball to mid-wicket fence for two huge sixes. By batting aggressively against spinners the run machine of Pakistan was not allowing them to settle. The ploy worked for Pakistan in the whole day.

The first hour produced 50 runs and New Zealand bowlers were looking helpless against the determination and application of Ali and Younis. One improvement that was observed in the batting of both of them, they hardly played the sweep shot against the spinners. That was the mistake they were making in previous games. Instead of sweeping, Azhar and Younis used their feet and played them with straight bat. At lunch Pakistan were well placed at 118 for two. By that time Younis reached his 29th Test fifty and was looking all set for another ton.

The match turned in the favour of the tourists when McCullum decided to change strategy and asked his pacers to bowl in a off-stump line with a packed off-side field. The Kiwi bowlers responded to their captain’s call and runs were dried up. To up the scoring rate Younis played an expensive drive and was caught in the cover, to a ball of James Neesham, which did not deserve a wicket. That was the turning of point of the day. Pakistan managed to score only 64 runs in the post-lunch session.

The post tea season was dominated by the tourists as they took three important Pakistan wickets with the second new ball. First the skipper, Misbah-ul-Haq, was caught in the slips in the bowling of Southee. Soon after Azher who scored his 18th half-century was dismissed by Sodhi. Suddenly the score changed from 195 for three to 228 for five. It could have been worse as Asad Shafiq was bowled of of no ball and got a lifeline.

At the late stages of the game, Pakistani batsmen started to bat aggressively. Their ploy was to keep the Kiwi bowlers under pressure by disturbing their line and length. But in the second last over of the day produced the wicket of Shafiq. In the context of the match this wicket was crucial and the tourists can now hope for a lead in the first innings.

Brief scores:

New Zealand 403 (Tom Latham 137, Brendon McCullum 43; Ehsan Adil 2 for 69, Yasir Shah 2 for 89) lead Pakistan 281 for 6 (Azhar Ali 75, Younis Khan 72; Tim Southee 1 for 41, Ish Sodhi 2 for 65) by 122 runs.

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