Cricket: Pakistan crumble against Black Caps

By David Leggat in Christchurch

New Zealand are on course for a convincing victory over Pakistan after a day of shifting fortunes at Hagley Oval.

Pakistan did a good job in the morning session, lost their way during a middle session batting go-slow before being tossed in a spin dryer late on as New Zealand's bowlers ripped the contest their way.

The upshot is Pakistan will start tomorrow - the fourth day, but actually the third playing day - at a parlous 129 for seven, holding an overall lead of 62.

New Zealand should wrap up their first home win over Pakistan in 31 years, and just their ninth in 54 tests overall, but they'll be holding all tickets after a day of 14 wickets - 13 fell on Friday.

Pakistan's coach Mickey Arthur was magnanimous tonight.

"We've been out-played so far over the last few days," he said. "I think credit today to the way New Zealand bowled. I thought as a unit, they bowled very, very well.

"They put us under pressure all the time, and there were no freebies on offer at all."

Pakistan will lean heavily on their last recognised batsman, Asad Shafiq today. He has big-hitting tailender Sohail Khan for company and two rabbits after that.

"We feel that [a lead of] 150-170, we could have a real chance because there's still enough in the wicket," Arthur said.

Pakistan got in a pickle as they tried to pull their way back to parity having surrendered a 67-run first innings lead. Instead, the runs dried up and they were becalmed.

Opener Sami Aslam laboured 57 balls over seven as maiden followed maiden. The batsmen got themselves into trouble when, as was always going to happen, good balls arrived with the batsmens' names on them.

Pakistan scraped a mere 44 runs off 29 overs through the middle session.

There was a plan: to hit the ball straight, leave the wide stuff and make New Zealand come to them, as Arthur put it. In turn, the hope was that would open up the leg side. Problem was, New Zealand's seamers were bang on the job.

The quartet bowled 25 maidens in their 62 overs yesterday. Pakistan were unable to break the shackles.

Once Babar Azam, the most assertive of the Pakistani batsmen, edged Neil Wagner to the wicketkeeper to make it 58-2, still nine behind overall, things went badly pear-shaped for Pakistan.

Champion batsman Younis Khan fell to a spectacular snorter from the bullish Wagner for one before the real damage happened late on.

Captain Misbah-ul-Haq then opener Azhar Ali, who had scrapped 252 minutes and 173 balls over 31, fell in the space of four balls and Pakistan simply melted away.

The upshot was four wickets tumbled for 12 in 27 balls. Boult was the chief destroyer, taking 3-5 in the space of 12 deliveries and Pakistan were on their knees.

Tim Southee and Colin de Grandhomme played their parts and Wagner had shoved open the door in his usual robust fashion.

Earlier, New Zealand had an ordinary morning, as Pakistan's seamers enjoyed themselves, taking the seven remaining first innings wickets for 96 in 23.5 overs.

Jeet Raval couldn't add to his overnight score of 55, and at this relatively advanced stage of the match he remains the only player to have gone past 35.

That says something about the pitch, but also the quality of the bowling and sloppiness of too much of the batting of both sides.

Late hitting by Wagner and Southee enabled New Zealand to push the lead out to 67.

New Zealand's legspinner Todd Astle got sharp turn at the end of the day. Pakistan will be thinking, 'if only', with their own spectacular leggie Yasir Shah most likely not having anything like enough to work with tomorrow.

- NZ Herald

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