Cricket: Pakistan prepare to scrap way back

By David Leggat, David Leggat in Hamilton

Sohail Khan was the pick of Pakistan's bowlers with four wickets. Photo / photosport.nz
Sohail Khan was the pick of Pakistan's bowlers with four wickets. Photo / photosport.nz

Pakistan are far from ready to concede the second test and series to New Zealand, despite a grim second day at Seddon Park yesterday.

In what is shaping as a low-scoring contest, the tourists, ranked No 2 in test cricket, are on the run, at 76 for five responding to New Zealand's 271 but their best bowler, Sohail Khan, remains bullish that they can scrap their way back into the contest today.

He knows Pakistan let New Zealand get too many runs in conditions tailormade for seam bowling. They were hamstrung on the shortened first day by a damp ball but from 203 for seven, New Zealand got away.

"Yes, 270 shouldn't have been scored. It is a bit on the high side on this pitch," he said. "The thing is one good partnership from Pakistan can take us close.

"It's just the start of the match. Pakistan will try and get as close as possible [to New Zealand] and after that the responsibility will go on the bowlers to get New Zealand out as quickly as possible."

The problem is Pakistan are on their last pair of good-quality batsmen. Babar Azam and Sarfraz Ahmed have put on 25 but there's only the seamers to come.

Sohail's four for 99 was good reward for 25 overs of honest and often skilled seam bowling.

He conceded Pakistan's batting tumble late yesterday was tough for the bowlers to take, after their hard slog. They need to learn quickly about batting around the off stump when the ball is seaming about, he said.

New Zealand wicketkeeper BJ Watling admitted the Pakistan seamers kept the batsmen wary.

"They bowled well, good lengths and asked a lot of questions. Every now and then it would do something so we're pretty happy with 270 and getting five wickets tonight really helps," he said.

Watling, who finished unbeaten after a gritty 49, said New Zealand were surprised by Pakistan's decision to omit world-class legpsinner Yasir Shah from the test side.

"But it's a wicket where you want four seamers as well and we've got that bonus of having Colin [de Grandhomme] there."

The only Pakistan batsman who prospered yesterday was fast-rising Babar, who hit three successive ODI centuries against the West Indies recently. He will start today on 34 and looks in good touch.

"He batted really well," an admiring Watling said. "He played the ball late, was watchful and waited for us to give him something to hit.

"That's how you play in these conditions and we've just got to work out a way to put some pressure on him and find that weakness."

- NZ Herald

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