New Zealand were in trouble at 26-2 on stumps, still trailing Pakistan by 48 runs on day three of the deciding third and final Test against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi after centuries by the middle-order duo of Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq helped Pakistan claim a 74-run lead.
Shaheen Shah Afridi and Yasir Shah dismissed openers Jeet Raval and Tom Latham respectively before the end of play. New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson and nightwatchman William Somerville were at the crease when stumps was called.
Earlier in the day, the hosts were dismissed for 348 in reply to New Zealand’s 274.
Azhar, who scored 134 off 297, became debutant off-spinner Somerville’s maiden Test wicket and was soon joined in the pavilion by Shafiq, who scored 104 off 259 balls before being trapped in front of the wickets by Ajaz Patel.
However, the lower order once again struggled as they went from 286-3 to 348 all out, with debutant Somerville claiming 4-75.
Azhar and Shafiq had shown intent right from the first ball of the third day, which Azhar smashed over backward point for a boundary off Trent Boult to set the tone for the first session.
Both batsmen pounced on every scoring opportunity as they cut through New Zealand’s lead with the kind of ease that must surely have visiting skipper Kane Williamson fretting.
Pakistan had managed to add 85 runs without the fall of a wicket by the time lunch was called with the score at 224-3. Azhar was unbeaten on 111 off 245 balls, while Shafiq was on 55 off 183.