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Williamson Wages Lone Battle as Spinners Give Pakistan Ascendancy on Day One

Cricketnext Staff | Updated: December 3, 2018, 7:09 PM IST
Williamson Wages Lone Battle as Spinners Give Pakistan Ascendancy on Day One

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New Zealand's troubles against spin once again came to the fore with Yasir Shah and Bilal Asif sharing five wickets between them to help Pakistan take the first day honours in Abu Dhabi on Monday (December 3).

Kane Williamson (89) and BJ Watling (42*) stitched a fine 104-run stand but found little support from the others as the visitors ended Day one at Sheikh Zayed Stadium on 229/7.

Electing to bat first on a grass-less surface, New Zealand got off to a good start courtesy Jeet Raval who looked solid. He guided the second ball of the day past slips for a four before driving debutant Shaheen Afridi straight down the ground for another boundary.

Tom Latham (4), at the other end, got off the mark with a glance down to fine leg but soon became Afridi's first Test victim. The 18-year-old got the ball to dart back sharply into Latham, who was looking to tuck it away to the on side, but missed the line and was trapped right in front of the stumps.

Williamson and Raval then got together and looked quite comfortable in the middle against the Pakistani quicks. The duo mixed caution with controlled aggression as they rotated the strike and collected boundaries at every given chance. Just when it seemed the two will take New Zealand through to lunch, Sarfraz Ahmed unleashed his trump card Yasir Shah and like in the previous Test, the leg-spinner ripped through the top-order.

The 32-year-old first had Raval LBW for 45 and then got rid of Ross Taylor the very next ball with a quicker one that kept low and breached the right-hander's defences. Yasir then struck for the third time when he bowled Henry Nicholls around his legs for 1 to leave New Zealand gasping at 72/4. With that, the leg-spinner came within two wickets of becoming the fastest man to 200 wickets in Test cricket as the visitors headed into the break at 73/4 with Williamson unbeaten on 21 and BJ Watling on 0.

The second session though saw the Kiwis put up a brave fight led by their captain and wicket-keeper. The duo thwarted Pakistan bowlers with some staunch resistance and remained unfazed on the odd occasion they were beaten.

While Watling was cautious but looked largely in control, Williamson was his sparkling self as he went about his job with a minimal fuss.

The New Zealand captain struck five crisp boundaries on his way to a 28th half-century reaching the landmark with a punch through covers off Bilal Asif. The visitors went through to tea without losing a wicket in an attritional second session. Williamson ground out an obdurate 71* to take his side to 145/4 at the break, while Watling was unbeaten on 14.

The final session had some more astute batting from both Williamson and Watling with the ball not doing much from the surface as the duo brought up their 100-run stand in the 68th over. Sarfraz Ahmed then, in a desperate attempt to break the partnership brought Haasan Ali into the attack and the pacer did not disappoint.

Getting enough reverse swing back into the batsmen, Hassan induced a false shot off Williamson to cut short a dogged stand. The New Zealand captain looking to flick an incoming delivery off his pads failed to keep it down and lobbed a simple catch to Asad Shafiq who was stationed at short mid-wicket. His innings ended on 89 in 176 deliveries, with the scoreboard reading 176/5.

Colin de Grandhomme, coming in at No.7, got off the mark in trademark fashion as he slammed Yasir over deep square leg for half a dozen before dismissively flicking Hassan for a four through mid-wicket. But that was all he could get as he soon fell to Asif clipping the off-spinner straight into the hands of Shafiq at leg-slip for a 22-ball 20. Tim Southee came and went for 2 as New Zealand slipped to 209/7.

The visitors had a few anxious moments but debutant William Somerville and Watling saw the rest of the day through. When stumps were called Watling was unbeaten on a patient 180-ball 42 while Somerville showed some good resistance to finish on 12*.

For Pakistan, Yasir was the pick of the bowlers returning 3/62 in 31 overs while Bilal picked up 2/57 in 24 overs.
First Published: December 3, 2018, 7:02 PM IST

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