Pakistan 158-1 at tea on day 5, chasing 369 vs. NZ
HAMILTON, New Zealand (AP) A 131-run opening partnership between Sami Aslam and captain Azhar Ali on Tuesday put Pakistan in a strong position to force a draw in the second test against New Zealand.
At tea on the final day the tourists were 158-1, chasing 369 to win the match.
Aslam was 75 not out, Babar Azam was 16 and with a minimum 34 overs left on the final day, Pakistan needed an unlikely 211 more runs to win at 6.21 runs per over.
The patient partnership between Aslam and Azhar, which lasted 253 minutes and ended just after drinks in the middle session, indicated Pakistan was not truly pursuing a victory and a chance to square the two-test series.
The run rate hovered under two for much of the day and had only edged ahead to 2.36 when tea was taken. But there was the faint possibility that the openers were trying to create the platform for a frantic run chase in the final session: Pakistan often likes to base its chase on a slow beginning, the preservation of wickets and then an aggressive push at the end.
But in the second half of the post-lunch session the openers seemed bent on accelerating the scoring, at first by rotating the strike more regularly and then with the occasional boundary.
Azhar minimized risk throughout the day until he swung lavishly at a wide delivery from spinner Mitchell Santner and dragged the ball back onto his stumps, departing for 58.
Aslam was joined by Babar and the pair continued to push for singles and to find gaps for fours through a relatively wide-spread New Zealand field.
Pakistan must win to preserve its unbeaten record in its last 12 series against New Zealand.