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Black Caps with a historic opportunity

Thursday 5 January 2023 | Written by Rahul Patil | Published in Cricket, Sports

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Black Caps with a historic opportunity
Pakistan's Abdullah Shafique loses his wicket versus New Zealand. Picture: AFP/Getty Images

Pakistan vs New Zealand – 2nd Test – Day 4: New Zealand 1st innings – 449 all out in 131 overs (Latham 71, Conway 122, Blundell 51, Matt Henry 68*, Naseem 3/71, Salman 3/75, Abrar 4/149). Pakistan 1st innings – 408 all out in 133 overs (Imam-ul-Haq 83, Saud Shakeel 125*, Sarfaraz 78, Patel 3/88, Sodhi 3/95). New Zealand 2nd innings – 277 for 5 declared in 82 overs (Latham 62, Blundell 74, Bracewell 74*, Salman 1/42). Pakistan 2nd innings – 0 for 2 in 2.5 overs (Southee 0/1, Sodhi 0/1)

‘Fortune favours the brave’ is a saying that is used quite a lot in cricket. On day 4 New Zealand were brave in setting Pakistan a target of 319. Then they were fortunate when the ball stayed low in the 1st over of Pakistan’s innings to dismiss opener Abdulla Shafique for a blob. Finally, on what turned out to be the last ball of the day Sodhi found a gap between bat and pad of night watchman Mir Hamza to leave Pakistan reeling at 2 down for nothing.

The declaration was brave but it was a smart one too. The blackcaps wanted Pakistan to believe that they had a chance to win. Only then would Pakistan go for the target and in doing so would offer more chances to New Zealand.

In the morning New Zealand didn’t take long to dismiss last man Abrar and took a valuable 1st innings lead of 41 runs. Saud Shakeel remained not out on 125. In their second dig they lost Conway early. A rare failure for the man in form. Latham and Williamson then steadied the ship and also kept the score board ticking. Just as their 109 run partnership was taking the game away from the hosts, Pakistan hit back with 3 quick wickets. Latham, Williamson & Nicholls.

Henry Nicholls in particular will be disappointed with his returns on this tour. 53 runs from 3 innings on good batting wickets is not what you expect from a number 4. Ross Taylor has left some big shoes to fill. Nicholls will have to step up else Glenn Phillips and Will Young are keen to fill them.

The slide was stopped by a mature partnership between Blundell and Bracewell. They put on 127 for the 5th wicket at a good rate giving New Zealand the opportunity to declare and get the Pakistan openers out in the middle in fading light.

Like in the first test only two results seem possible going into day 5. Either a blackcaps victory or a draw. The last time a New Zealand side won a test series on Pakistan soil was over 50 years back. Cricket though has a mind of its own and I won’t be surprised if it throws up an absolute nail biter our way tomorrow.