KARACHI: New Zealand bowlers took important wickets in the first session, leaving Pakistan on 125/5 at lunch on the last day of the second Test at National Bank Cricket Arena on Friday.
Michael Bracewell bowled Pakistan’s captain and batting stalwart Babar Azam before catching Shan Masood to reduce the home side to 80/5 before Sarfaraz Ahmed and Saud Shakeel held firm till the interval.
Saud and Sarfaraz hold the key to their side’s re-entry into the competition, having already amassed 45 runs before lunch, with Pakistan still needing 192 runs to win the match and series with only five wickets in hand.
While Sarfaraz chose the aggressive route, scoring 29 off 33 balls, Saud provided a bulwark at the other end, scoring 16 off 51 balls.
Pakistan will be hoping the pair can replicate their performance from two days ago when they put on a strong 150-run partnership in the first innings.
Starting the crucial day with a shaky 0/2, overnight batter Imam and Shan combined 35 runs until Ish Sodhi handed New Zealand their first breakthrough of the day, cleaning out Imam-ul-Haq on 12 as he ran down the track but completely missed the sharp turning ball.
Skipper Babar attempted to reverse his team’s slide and was eliminated by an inside edge down the leg side off Bracewell. Shan lofted a length ball that Kane Williamson took comfortably at mid-off, giving Pakistan their third blow of the session.