HAMILTON, New Zealand (AP) " Tom Latham built partnerships with Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor which tightened New Zealand's grip on the second cricket test against Pakistan Monday, guiding it to 81-3 at tea on the fourth day.
Latham fell for 80 half an hour before the break but his partnerships of 96 with Williamson (42) and 52 with Taylor, who was 37 not out, gave New Zealand an overall lead of 236 with seven second innings wickets in hand. Henry Nicholls was with Taylor at tea on 9 not out.
New Zealand led by 55 on the first innings after dismissing Pakistan for 216 in reply to its first innings of 271, in which Latham was out first ball. It built cautiously on that lead throughout the first two sessions Monday, guided by Latham who batted exactly four hours for his 16th half century in tests.
The partnerships Latham formed with Williamson, then Taylor, secured New Zealand against the threat of a top order failure which might have brought Pakistan back into the match on a pitch which, after favoring the bowlers on the first three days, now seems ripe for batting.
New Zealand faces a challenge in deciding what target to set Pakistan if it hopes to win the match Tuesday on a final day on which a minimum of 98 overs must be bowled.
A draw would be enough to secure victory in the two-match series after New Zealand won the first test at Christchurch by seven wickets.
New Zealand hasn't beaten Pakistan in a series in New Zealand since 1985. Of the eight series since, Pakistan has won five and three have been drawn. Overall, Pakistan is unbeaten in its last 12 series against New Zealand home and away.
Latham survived a run out chance by the skin of his teeth on the way to a half century, which came up one ball before lunch, in 154 minutes from 103 balls. While he was generally watchful, he peppered his innings with 12 boundaries.
His reprieve came in the first session when substitute fielder Yasir Shah threw down the stumps with an underarm throw and Latham was shown by television replays to have made his ground by a hair's breadth.
Pakistan might be regretting its decision to omit Shah from its match lineup as the pitch at Seddon Park becomes less condusive to fast bowling. Yasir, who has 116 wickets from only 20 tests, was left out as Pakistan chose a four-pronged pace attack in response to the green condition of the pitch on the first day.
While Mohammad Amir claimed the first wicket of the day when he dismissed Jeet Raval for two in the eighth over, it was the third and fourth seamers " Imran Khan and Wahab Riaz " who enjoyed success in the afternoon.
Imran had Williamson caught by wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed at 107-2 and Wahab dismissed Latham at 159-3 in a similar manner. While Imran produced a good late outswinger to beat Williamson, Wahab surprised Latham with a bouncer which he fended to the keeper.
Wahab thought he also had Taylor lbw when he was 16 but New Zealand reviewed the decision and replays showed the bowler had over-stepped.
This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings