New Zealand relied on an ever-deteriorating field to defend their Kane Williamson-anchored 431 after Pakistan was cut to 30 for one on day two of the first test at Mount Maunganui on Sunday. Abid Ali was not out of 19 with night watchman Mohammad Abbas to score after Kyle Jamieson knocked out opener Shan Masood for 10. The Bay Oval field, Williamson’s home wicket, is known for supporting the bowlers on the first and last days. But Williamson said it was already showing signs it would prefer mid-stage spin, while New Zealand was sweating over the availability of short-ball specialist Neil Wagner.
“Hopefully the cracks start to open and hopefully it starts to deteriorate,” Williamson said.
“Spin will come into play more. There are also bits of rough, so I have no doubt that spin will definitely play a part.”
The immediate concern for New Zealand was the availability of Wagner, who would be scanned at the end of the day after being hit in the foot by a Shaheen Afridi yorker.
Wagner scored three overs when Pakistan hit, but he was clearly in pain.
New Zealand, which started the day at 222 for three, added 209 more runs before Wagner was the last man out.
The innings were topped by Williamson’s 129th, his 23rd Century Test, with significant contributions from BJ Watling (73) and Henry Nicholls (56), alongside Ross Taylor’s 70th on the first day.
Patience and concentration
Williamson described his knock as “truly satisfying” after New Zealand was sent into the bat on a green wicket and made life difficult with Afridi and Mohammad Abbas with swing and seam on day one.
While there wasn’t the same movement on day two, the drying field started showing signs of a turn, bringing the spin into play with Yasir Shah taking three wickets, including Williamson’s prized scalp.
Nicholls, who had teamed up Williamson in a 133-run tie for the fourth wicket, was the first to fall and bizarrely left the field when he could have stayed if he had made his case.
He was caught on the gloves and after consulting with Williamson, they felt the ball may have also touched the bat, so they decided not to seek a review when replays later showed the ball hitting his forearm and not brushing the glove or bat.
An epitome of patience and concentration, Williamson needed 261 balls to advance his century, his slowest Test 100, but when that milestone was over, he picked up the pace and needed only 36 more deliveries to get to 129 to come.
The introduction of Yasir Shah spelled the end of the New Zealand captain.
With his third ball, the leg spinner found enough twist to catch the edge of the bat and Haris Sohail took a clever one-handed catch.
Watling, who scored a double century against England on the same Bay Oval wicket a year ago, took over as the batter’s mainstay.
He played in a 36-run position with Mitchell Santner (19) and 66 with Jamieson (32).
After Tim Southee’s nine ball duck, Watling and Wagner set up 33 before Watling snatched a wide Afridi delivery to Yasir Shah near the trench.
It was a productive day for Yasir Shah, who also took on the wickets of Southee and Wagner (19) to return numbers of three for 113, while Afridi took four for 109.
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