Tea Pakistan 408 and 179 for 5 (Sarfaraz 65*, Shakeel 27*, Bracewell 2-33, Sodhi 2-49) need another 140 runs to beat New Zealand 449 and 277 for 5 dec
From what was evident, the idea was for Shakeel – on 27 off 129 balls – to bat deep and play anchor, even as Sarfaraz – on 65 from 99 – remained proactive and garnered runs at the other end rather quickly. Overall, it was a quiet session with the bat, with Pakistan chopping a further 54 runs off their target in 24 overs.
Southee got a hint of reverse swing away from Shakeel when the session had begun, but like in the first innings, the batter remained content to keep letting go almost all deliveries that arrived outside off. New Zealand’s captain then tried something different by placing a short leg and leg slip, and bowling short, but Shakeel remained unmoved.
Hardly any chances were created throughout the session, with the odd ball at best falling short of the slip fielder. The runs kept ticking over, as Sarfaraz got to his fourth Test fifty in a row – all made in this series – with his trademark paddle sweep off Sodhi, fetching the ball from outside off to get four to deep square leg. At the other end, Shakeel quietly crossed 20 for the tenth successive time since his debut last month.
Come the 13th over, Imam tried to negate Sodhi’s turn into him from the rough outside off by skipping down to drive. Instead, he was beaten in flight and just clean bowled. As a result, for the third time in four innings this series, he was out after charging down the pitch.
Masood, at the other end, looked calmer, happy to nudge it around after starting the day with two off-side fours. There was a nervous moment for him when Bracewell found the outside edge in the 23rd over, only for the ball to sneak between the wicketkeeper and slip. But just three balls later, Babar inside-edged Bracewell behind to Tom Latham, who did well to move to his left despite being blinded by the batter getting across and deep in the crease.
By then, the odd ball had started to keep low too, often shooting and skidding off the pitch. Despite that, Masood decided to jump out of his crease in Bracewell’s next over, and ended up caught by Kane Williamson moving to his left from mid-off.
(With Inputs from ESPN)
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