Azhar Ali and Haris Sohail combined for an unbeaten 64-run stand to steer Pakistan out of trouble to 81-2 after New Zealand pacer Trent Boult had claimed two early wickets to leave the visitors reeling at 17-2 in the decisive third and final Test in Abu Dhabi.
Azhar (34 not out off 85 balls) and Sohail (30 not out off 80 balls) settled the innings after Boult had dismissed both openers cheaply either side of lunch.
There was precious little joy for the bowlers after that though as Azhar and Sohail put away the bad deliveries while giving the required respect to the good ones.
Earlier in the day, the spinners had helped Pakistan restrict New Zealand to 274.
Sarfraz Ahmed would be happy with his bowlers’ effort as they managed to restrict the Black Caps to 274, despite battling half-centuries from Kane Williamson (89 off 176 balls) and BJ Watling (77 off 250 balls).
New Zealand, though, also have reason to be pleased with the score on a pitch where run-getting has not been easy in the face of some very tight bowling from Pakistan.
As expected, off-spinner Bilal Asif and leg-spinner Yasir Shah were Pakistan’s chief destroyers as conditions offered uneven turn and bounce that kept the batsmen guessing. Asif finished with figured of 5-65, while Yasir claimed 3-75.