New Zealand 97-1 at lunch on day 4, 2nd test vs. Pakistan
HAMILTON, New Zealand (AP) New Zealand led Pakistan by 152 runs with nine second innings wickets standing at lunch on the fourth day of the second cricket test on Monday.
Beginning the day with a 55-run lead after dismissing Pakistan for 216 in reply to its first innings of 271, New Zealand advanced cautiously through an extended morning session to be 97-1 at lunch. Tom Latham was 53 not out and Kane Williamson 37 in a partnership of 86.
New Zealand had faced only one ball in its second innings on Sunday before rain, which hampered play throughout the third day, finally brought the day to an end. For that reason, the ball was still brand new, the Pakistan bowlers were fresh and there was still pressure on the New Zealand top order when play resumed.
New Zealand leads the two-match series 1-0 after winning the first test in Christchurch by seven wickets and is edging towards its first test series win over Pakistan in New Zealand since 1985.
It needs only a draw to achieve that victory but will be aware that with two full days or a minimum of 196 overs remaining at the start of play Monday that its best policy remains to play for a win.
New Zealand first had to avoid the loss of early wickets that might have swung the initiative in the match back towards Pakistan and its four-pronged seam attack. Because the first three days of the match were heavily affected by rain, the pitch at Seddon Park remained relatively fresh and still provided a little assistance to the faster bowlers.
If the pitch does not have to be covered again, it will harden and be good for batting on the last day, making more difficult the judgment of what target to set Pakistan in the fourth innings.
Williamson was in a good position to make that judgment as he assessed the pace and quality of the pitch in a stand with Latham that occupied most of the morning session.
New Zealand lost opener Jeet Raval for two in the eighth over when it was 11. It was the first failure of Raval's young test career: he had scores of 55, 36 not out and 55 in his three innings since making his debut in Christchurch.
Pakistan had two strong lbw appeals early in the day. It decided not to review the first against Raval but reviewed the second against Latham, which again went in favor of the batsman.
Raval fell lbw to a decision which could not be questioned. A fuller ball from Mohammad Amir straightened on the left-hander and he was hit low on the pad, directly in front of middle stump.
Williamson was lucky to survive one of the closest run-out decisions he is likely to face in his career when he was 21 and New Zealand was 47. Yasir Shah hit the stumps directly with an underarm throw which dislodged the bails in the same instant that Williamson's bat cut the crease line.
Latham reached his half century in 155 minutes when he struck his ninth boundary off Mohammad Amir from the final ball before lunch.