MOUNT MAUNGANUI, New Zealand: New test captain Mohammad Rizwan made 71 and Faheem Ashraf 91 to help Pakistan weather a top-order collapse, then fight back on a day punctuated by lashing rain and hail to reach 239 before their last wicket fell in the last over Monday on the third day of the first cricket test against New Zealand.
Rizwan came to the crease when Pakistan was 52-5 during a morning session in which it lost four wickets for 32 runs. He left when it was 186-7 in the final session, having done as much as a captain can to rescue his team from imminent peril.
With Faheem, who made his highest test score and was the last man out, Rizwan put backbone into the Pakistan innings as it replied to New Zealands first innings of 431. Faheem outlasted Rizwan and played some elegant shots, some streaky to accumulate 15 fours and a six and ensure Pakistan avoided a follow on New Zealand likely would not have enforced late in the day.
He carried Pakistan past the follow-on mark of 231 with a four from the bowling of Neil Wagner 15 minutes before stumps which also took him past his previous highest test score of 83.
The seventh wicket partnership of 106 between Rizwan and Faheem lasted 30 overs and begun to look almost unbreakable until a direct hit by Mitchell Santner from mid-wicket ran out Rizwan late in the day. It was unfortunate end for the Pakistan captain who proved his value as he stood in for the injured Babar Azam and who batted for three and a half hours and compiled his fourth half century.
Rizwan and Faheem first had to establish themselves on a pitch which proved too difficult for most of Pakistans best batsmen, then keep their composure as three heavy rain showers and an abrupt hail storm interupted their progress.
New Zealand had consolidated its strong position in the match during the first session in which it captured the wickets of Abid Ali (25), Mohammad Abbas (5), Azhar Ali (5) and Haris Sohail (3).
Pakistan resumed at 30-1 and Abid and Abbas defied the bowling for 12 overs before the first wicket of the day fell to Kyle Jamieson. Abbas took 37 balls to get off the mark but performed his role as the resilient nightwatchman.
Abid was the first man out Monday, bowled by Jamieson who first forced him back with a ball which reared just short of a length then beat him with a fuller ball as he hovered on his crease.
Trent Boult ended Abbass 79 vigil, bowling around and producing a ball which took the edge and gave Ross Taylor his 150th test catch at slip.
Tim Southee then claimed the wickets of Azhar and Sohail in the same over. Azhars nick to wicketkeeper B.J. Watling was too faint for the on-field umpire but couldnt deceive the television replay and Sohail skewed a drive to Henry Nicholls in the gully.
With Rizwans steady example, Pakistan lost only one wicket in the second session which was shortened by a rain break and hailstorm which drove the players from the field just before tea.
Fawad Alam and Rizwan were tested by a barrage of short-pitched balls from Neil Wagner and Fawad succumbed when he hooked and was caught by Watling. Wagner took his full turn at the bowling crese Monday despite suffering a broken toe when batting on the second day.
Faheem came to the last over of the day needing 13 runs for a first test century. He hit out, striking the first ball for four but edged the next to wicketkeeper Watling, leaving the ground to unanimous applause from his teammates.
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