Spinners give Pakistan upper hand before New Zealand rebuild
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson hit a fighting half century while wicketkeeper-batsman BJ Watling dug in to delay Yasir Shah's bid to become the fastest to 200 wickets on the first day of the third Test in Abu Dhabi.
Williamson missed out on a 19th Test century after he was caught at short mid-wicket by Asad Shafiq off Hasan Ali for 89. Watling was unbeaten on 42 as New Zealand closed on 229-7, a decent comeback after being reduced to 72-4 by a triple strike from Yasir in the first session.
Yasir managed 3-62. He failed to take any more wickets in the last two sessions and still needs another two wickets to hit the 200-mark to clinch the record.
The normally robust and aggressive Kiwi captain curbed his attacking instinct as he attempted to carve out a first innings that might give his side some leverage in the match. Watling also dug in and the pair batted right through the middle session.
Off-spinner Bilal Asif took over from Yasir, claiming Colin de Grandhomme for 20 and Tim Southee for two to finish with 2-57.
But Watling kept one end intact through his patient near four-hour batting.
With both teams needing a win to seal a series which is currently tied at 1-1, Yasir was the key and the leg-spinner induced a mini-collapse in the morning as the Kiwis slipped from 70-1 to 73-4 at lunch.
Yasir trapped opener Jeet Raval leg before with a faster one for 45. Raval reviewed but ball-tracking showed it would have hit leg stump.
With his next ball, Yasir clean-bowled Ross Taylor as the batsman went back but completely missed the ball.
Henry Nicholls saved the hat-trick but shortly after he attempted to sweep and Yasir flicking the ball as it went through to bowl him around his legs.
It was teenage left-arm pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi, making his Test debut as a replacement for injured Mohammad Abbas, who gave Pakistan their initial breakthrough and claimed his first Test victim. The 18-year-old nipped one back sharply to rap opener Tom Latham on the pads.