Ross Taylor gets special ton, but Pakistan hold out BLACKCAPS bowlers.

See-saw second Test concludes in draw

DAY FIVE: BLACKCAPS 403 and 250 (Ross Taylor 104, Mark Craig 34, Yasir Shah 5-79) drew with Pakistan 393 and 196-5 (Younis Khan 44, Mark Craig 2-66) at Dubai International Sports Stadium, Dubai. 

A thrilling day five of the BLACKCAPS second Test against Pakistan in Dubai has resulted in a draw, with the BLACKCAPS falling five wickets short of victory. A magnificent Ross Taylor century (104) lifted his side to a second-innings total of 250-9, giving them an overall lead of 260. While never really threatening to chase down their target, Pakistan managed to hold out to finish 196-5.

Scorecard

The day started with the BLACKCAPS in need of another 70 or so runs to add to their overnight advantage of 177 runs. Taylor would take care of that, with Mark Craig (34) and Tim Southee (20) also making useful contributions.

Resuming on 75, Taylor continued to elegantly work the ball around the ground, while Craig made a helpful habit of finding the boundary. Together, they took the BLACKCAPs beyond the 200 mark, solidifying the visitors position of strength. Having anchored the BLACKCAPS through a tricky position yesterday, Taylor was deservedly rewarded when he brought up his 12th Test ton off 129 balls. It was a special knock at a significant time for the BLACKCAPS and gave them real hope of pushing for victory. The knock also saw Taylor join John Wright for the second most Test centuries in New Zealand history, with only Martin Crowe ahead of him on 17.

With the lead at over 240 both Craig and Taylor fell attempting to hit out, but where they failed, Southee would succeed. The powerful number nine whacked three consecutive sixes to finish the innings, giving the BLACKCAPS a lead of 260 before Brendon McCullum's gutsy declaration, which kept all results alive while giving his side the best shout of levelling the series.

Southee then gave the BLACKCAPS the upper-hand with the ball, getting opener Taufeeq Umar early on for four. It was just the start the visitors required, but Pakistan was never going to go down without a fight.

Three more wickets would fall before the tea break, with Trent Boult taking two of them, including the key scalp of the skipper Misbah ul-Haq. Boult’s use of reverse swing had the Pakistanis in all sorts of bother, but Younis Khan and Asad Shafiq held firm.

Craig would make one final breakthrough in the form of Khan (44), but Shafiq (41*) and Sarfraz Ahmed (24*) would see out the final overs before the match concluded.

It was a valiant effort from the BLACKCAPS, who pushed Pakistan to the limit throughout the Test. It was a remarkable turn-around from the first Test and the visitors will be keen to carry that momentum into the third match. Pakistan still lead the series 1-0, but the BLACKCAPS will have great belief that they can still level the series.

 

DAY FOUR: BLACKCAPS 403 and 167-6 (Ross Taylor 77,  Brendon McCullum 45, Zulfiqir Babar 3-60, Yasir Shah 3-65) lead Pakistan 393 (Sarfraz Ahmed 112, Tim Southee 3-67) by 177 runs at Dubai International Sports Stadium, Dubai. 

The second Test between the BLACKCAPS and Pakistan is on a knife-edge, with the kiwi side currently holding an overall lead of 177 heading into day five. A century from Sarfraz Ahmed (112) lifted Pakistan to a first-innings total of 393, giving the BLACKCAPS a lead of 10. With the wicket deteriorating quickly, the visitors were then reduced to 167-6 making it anyone’s game.

The day had started perfectly for the BLACKCAPS, with Tim Southee picking up two quick wickets to have his side eyeing a lead of 100. Trent Boult then added another, but the final partnership of Ahmed and Rahat Ali (8*) would prove troublesome. The pair put on 81 for the final wicket, with Sarfraz bringing up a ton in the process. It all but wiped the BLACKCAPS lead and left the game evenly balanced. 

It was Brendon McCullum who got the final scalp of Sarfras Ahmed for 112 caught and bowled, for not only his first Test wicket, but first First-Class wicket in all forms, to his delight.

With the pitch becoming more and more difficult for the batsmen to negate, the BLACKCAPS set about the difficult task of earning a lead in excess of 200. Brendon McCullum (45) and Tom Latham (9) put on 43 for the first wicket, extending the advantage past 50. However, when Latham was given out under dubious circumstances, Pakistan took the momentum and brought on a flurry of wickets.

As he has done so effectively this series, Latham went to sweep Yasir Shah, but missed and the ball appeared to come off his forearm. He was given out and the third umpire, who was without the use of hotspot, couldn’t see conclusive evidence to overturn it. It was unfortunate for the 22-year-old who has been in terrific form so far this series.

 

Kane Williamson, McCullum and Corey Anderson then all fell in quick succession, reducing the BLACKCAPS to the precarious position of being 79-4. Ross Taylor remained though and would show all of his experience in getting his side back on track. The 30-year-old showcased his usual arsenal of elegant stokes, reaching 50 off 63 balls.

Despite the BLACKCAPS losing two more wickets before the end of play, Taylor remained at stumps with 77 next to his name, having assured the BLACKCAPS a somewhat defendable total. He and the lower-order will be determined to add a few more tomorrow, before taking a second crack at the Pakistan order in the final couple of sessions. It will be a tough ask to dismiss them, but the BLACKCAPS bowling unit will certainly feel they’re in with a chance. All results are a possibility tomorrow and the past four days of cricket are set up for an exciting conclusion.  

 

DAY THREE: BLACKCAPS 403 lead Pakistan 281-6 (Azhar Ali 75, Younis Khan 72, Ish Sodhi 2-65) by 122 runs. 

The BLACKCAPS are on track to record a first-innings lead against Pakistan in the second Test in Dubai, after tight bowling restricted the hosts to 281-6. The BLACKCAPS were made to work hard for every wicket, but at stumps they had maintained a lead of 122 and were about to get the first look at the Pakistan tail. Tomorrow morning looms as a critical morning for the result of the Test.

Scorecard

Younis Khan and Azhar Ali started the day strongly, with Khan in particular displaying his full array of strokes early on. The pair looked impenetrable until lunch, with Pakistan ending the session at 118-2.

However the BLACKCAPS would continue to show great persistence with the ball, tying down the Pakistan batsmen and making runs incredibly hard to come by. The pressure soon told, with the BLACKCAPS capturing their first wicket of the day. Khan went for a cut off Jimmy Neesham, but guided it to the safe hands of Mark Craig.

One world-class batsmen was replaced by another in Misbah ul-Haq, but on this occasion the BLACKCAPS managed to limit his contribution. After working hard all day, Trent Boult got a deserved reward when he drew the edge of ul-Haq to send the skipper packing for 28. He very nearly had another, only to have the wicket of Asad Shafiq reversed due to a no-ball.

Ish Sodhi was the next to break through, deceiving Ali (75) and rattling his stumps in the 93rd over. Wickets weren’t coming easy, but they were coming. Tim Southee then finished the day perfectly, dismissing Shafiq for 44 and giving the BLACKCAPS every chance of securing a first-innings lead. There’s plenty of work to do in days four and five, but the BLACKCAPS are in with a shot to level the series.

 

DAY TWO: BLACKCAPS 403 (Mark Craig 43, BJ Watling 39, Zulfiqar Babar 4-17) lead Pakistan 34-2 by 369 runs at Dubai International Sports Stadium, Dubai. 

The BLACKCAPS have put themselves in the box seat in the second Test against Pakistan in Dubai, with a day of hard graft paying off in the final session.

The kiwi side battled through to a first innings total of 403, with the lower order putting in a typical dogged performance at the end. Two wickets late in the day assured that the BLACKCAPS would head into tomorrow the happier of the sides though, with the hosts 34-2 at stumps.

Pakistan started the day brightly, picking up the early wickets of Corey Anderson (9) and centurion Tom Latham (137).

It ended a special performance from Latham, whose promise only continues to grow with each Test. The hosts picked up their third scalp before lunch in the form of Jimmy Neesham (17), reducing the BLACKCAPS 295-6 at the end of the first session. BJ Watling and Mark Craig would halt that momentum though, digging in with a gritty sixth wicket partnership worth 68.

The pair would occasionally go long periods of time without scoring, but worked their way past the 300 mark for the BLACKCAPS. Their admirable stand would come to an end when Watling (39) cut one to backward point. Unfortunately it would be a double strike for Pakistan, trapping Mark Craig lbw (43) and having the BLACKCAPS look like they’d fall short of 400 at 348-8.

However, the BLACKCAPS tail would wag once again, with Ish Sodhi (32*), and Tim Southee (17) adding crucial runs at the end of the innings.

 

To pass 400 gave the visitors a mental edge and they went into bowl with their tails up. They were rewarded. Sodhi was the first to breakthrough, bowling Shan Masood (13) with an absolute ripper.

Craig then capped off the day beautifully, seeing opener Taufeeq Umar stumped (16) in the penultimate over. There’s still plenty of work to do, but for the first time in the series the BLACKCAPS have Pakistan under pressure. Day three will be very intriguing.

 

DAY ONE: BLACKCAPS 243-3 in 87 overs (Tom Latham 137*, Kane Williamson 43) at Dubai International Sports Stadium, Dubai.

Tom Latham has backed up his maiden ton in the first Test against Pakistan with a supreme knock of 137 not out on day one of the second match in Dubai.

His brilliant innings has the BLACKCAPS in a powerful position at 243-3. It’s the first time in 24 years a BLACKCAPS opener has scored centuries in consecutive Tests.

The first big moment of the day came 30 minutes before the start of play, when Brendon McCullum correctly called heads at the toss. The decision to bat first was an easy one and the BLACKCAPS would take full advantage of their opportunity.

Latham and McCullum started positively, giving few chances on their way to an unbeaten partnership of 50. The pair would go on to make 77, before McCullum holed out for 43 in the 25th over. The momentum stayed with the BLACKCAPS though, with Kane Williamson joining Latham at the crease and taking the side through to 150-1.

Kane Williamson was in fine touch before getting a great ball. 

It would take a special ball to break the duo up, with Williamson (32) bowled by a peach of a delivery from Zulfiqar Barbar. Still, the BLACKCAPS remained in a dominant position, with Latham looking more and more comfortable at the crease and the score edging towards 200.

Latham would reach his milestone first, bringing up his century off 192 balls. The 22-year-old once again showed composure and maturity well-beyond his years, seemingly handling the Pakistani bowlers with ease.

Latham and Taylor put a promising partnership together. 

Not long after, he and Ross Taylor brought up the 200 for the BLACKCAPS, and the third consecutive 50 partnership for the team. Taylor fell towards the end of the day for 22, but Corey Anderson would join Latham to see out the final overs.

It was a satisfying turnaround from the first Test, with the BLACKCAPS top order showing plenty of grit and application.. The challenge will be to push on from a fine start and really go big from here. 

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