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Kane is able: NZ-Pakistan Test hangs in the balance

Wednesday 28 December 2022 | Written by Rahul Patil | Published in Cricket, Sports

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Kane is able: NZ-Pakistan Test hangs in the balance
Kane Williamson. Picture credits: AFP/Getty Images/22122812

Pakistan vs New Zealand – 1st Test – Day 3: Pakistan 1st Innings 438 all out in 130.5 overs (Babar 161, Salman 103, Sarfaraz 86, Southee 3/69, Bracewell 2/72) vs New Zealand 440 for 6 in 136 overs (Latham 113, Conway 92, Williamson 105*, Abrar 3/143, Nauman 2/137)

Yesterday I said that Day 3 normally gives us an indication of which way the game is going but at the end of yesterday’s play only a brave punter would bet on the outcome of this test match. With 4 wickets in hand and a lead of 2 runs over Pakistan, New Zealand still have their noses slightly ahead. They might have to bat last on a deteriorating pitch to win the game though so it’s still even Stevens.

Yesterday I also mentioned the importance of using DRS effectively. Pakistan used it brilliantly to dismiss the well set Devon Conway on 92. Conway will be disappointed on missing out on a well-deserved ton but it was a good delivery that spun sharply out of the rough. Tom Blundell on the other hand didn’t review his LBW decision. Replays showed that he had in fact nicked the ball onto his pads. He probably didn’t realize it himself but with 3 reviews in hand and not many recognized batters left to come they should have probably used one of the reviews.

Tom Latham bought up his 13th test century to go on top of the list as far as centuries by New Zealand openers in test cricket is concerned. He will be disappointed with the way he got out trying to reverse sweep a ball which was heading down the leg side.

Both Henry Nicholls and Darryl Mitchell added the much needed boost to the scoring rate due to their positive intent. Positive intent on a turning track though comes with its share of risk and both batters perished after being well set.

At 337 for 4 and still trailing Pakistan by 101 runs Williamson and Blundell had two choices. They could have gone on the offensive with the risk of being all out and giving Pakistan a first innings lead or they could have a safety first approach to make sure New Zealand got ahead of Pakistan. With the amount of time left in the game they chose the latter and made sure the blackcaps kept holding on to the aces.

The star of the day undoubtedly was Kane Williamson. By his own high standards, he hasn’t had a great time with the bat for the last couple of years. But today was the perfect setting for him. A tricky pitch, his team trailing by 255 and the weight of captaincy off his shoulders brought the best out of him. He scored hundred number 25 in test cricket after a gap of almost 2 years. Yes, he was lucky on a couple of occasions but anyone who has played cricket will tell you that luck has always been a huge part of this beautiful game.

With all four results still possible in this test match one gets the feeling that the 1st session on day 4 will be extremely crucial. New Zealand’s lower order is pretty handy with the bat and how they support Williamson will go a long way in deciding which way this game goes. Who said test cricket was boring again?