ABU DHABI T20

PAKISTAN REQUIRE 225 RUNS WITH ONLY FIVE WICKETS IN HAND TO SALVAGE HAFEEZ’S FINAL TEST

Pakistan are floundering having commenced the chase of 280 runs to beat New Zealand in the final day of the third match of the Oye Hoye 2018 Pakistan vs New Zealand Test Series, presented by Brighto Paints.

The Men in Green have until the close of play to reach 280 or above, but with the loss of their five openers, they have considerable work to do in this afternoon’s session to draw, let alone win.

Meanwhile, New Zealand started their morning strongly, taking five crucial wickets, but do need to bowl their opponents out by the end of today, to avoid a match and series draw.

It’s certainly game on at Zayed Cricket Stadium – Pakistan are currently sitting on 55 for five, needing 225 more runs to take out the series. New Zealand, however, require five wickets to claim victory.

Having finished yesterday on a strong lead of 272 for four, the Black Caps came to the crease this morning confident.

After honouring the retiring Mohammed Hafeez with a guard of honour on his final day of playing Test cricket for his country, Pakistan’s fielders prepared to restrict the already significant New Zealand lead over the course of the morning.

The first ball of the session saw Hasan Ali strike – trapping Kane Williamson on the back pad for lbw. Williamson, who was on 139, reviewed the decision, but the third umpire confirmed his dismissal, bringing New Zealand to 272 for five.

Colin de Grandhomme joined Henry Nicholls at the crease and was determined to push New Zealand’s total up with a strong display of balls flung for fours and sixes.

Nicholls was rewarded for his efforts with his third Test century soon after but de Grandhomme’s electric innings was short lived as he lost his wicket for 26 after Bilal Asif took an easy catch at deep backward square leg off the bowling of Yasir Shah.

Shah pounced on the next ball as it clattered into BJ Watling’s wicket for a duck.

Tim Southee was next to join Nicholls out at the middle for a couple of overs, before Williamson called it in, declaring on 353 for seven – giving them a lead of 280.

Pakistan’s second innings started with Mohammed Hafeez walking to the crease for the final time with fellow opener, Imam-ul-Haq.

With Tim Southee and Trent Boult opening the New Zealand bowling, the two batsmen struggled to find opportunities to gather the runs their team so urgently required.

Hafeez’s final dismissal in Test cricket came in the seventh over as Tim Southee masterfully pitched a shorter angle in his delivery and nailed the opener’s off stump. The gathered supporters at Zayed Cricket Stadium gave the 38 year old a warm ovation as he left the pitch for the very last time in red ball cricket.

Azhar Ali joined ul-Haq at the crease and added a short five runs, before de Grandhomme bowled towards his off stump. Though it straightened slightly, the ball clipped the bat of Azhar into the gloves of BJ Watling and New Zealand were another wicket closer to victory.

Debutant Will Somerville managed to grasp the third wicket of the innings as Haris Sohail nicked a full ball into the hands of Ross Taylor in the slips. Sohail, who had brought some explosive batting to the pitch in the 28 balls he faced, walked off for nine.

Somerville then also proceeded to scalp the wicket of Asad Shafiq for a golden duck the very next ball – another caught behind.

The final wicket of an excellent session for New Zealand was that of Imam-ul-Haq’s, as Ajaz Patel forced him into a dolly catch to Nicholls at short leg.

With Pakistan now on 55 for five, trailing by 225 runs, the team seem to be in dire-straights to pull the series back for a draw, let alone a win.

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