Sarfaraz Ahmed and Saud Shakeel saved Pakistan from 80 for 5 to add an unbeaten 99 runs as New Zealand went wicketless in the second session, setting up what might be an entertaining conclusion to the Karachi Test. The hosts were now 140 runs short of their 319-run goal, while the visitors were two wickets away from victory and another three from catching up.
Officially, either of those outcomes required 31 overs on the final evening. The plan, it seemed clear, was for Shakeel, who was on 27 off 129 balls, to bat deep and serve as the team’s anchor, while Sarfaraz, who was on 65 off 99, stayed active and rapidly scored runs at the other end.
Overall, Pakistan added just 54 runs to their goal in 24 overs, making it a dull batting session. After lunch, Ish Sodhi bowled eight consecutive overs, and Tim Southee dismissed himself for five runs as New Zealand hedged their bets and attacked Pakistan with both pace and spin.
Sodhi attempted to hit right-handed Sarfaraz over the wicket and left-handed Shakeel around the stumps, but he struggled to gain any traction on the pitch. The ball did spin as it left the rough, but Shakeel handled it by taking a strong stride directly to the pitch of the ball or, if he had to go backward, by making sure he was outside the line of off stump to escape the lbw.
Shakeel gave Southee a hint of a reverse swing when the session initially started, but like in the early innings, the hitter continued to be satisfied to throw practically all offerings that came outside off. Shakeel remained unaffected despite the captain of New Zealand’s attempt to change things up by setting up a short leg and leg slip and bowling short.
Imam-ul-Haq showed early indications of the first one in the ninth over when he drove vehemently at a full delivery from Sodhi outside off, but it twisted in and beat the inside edge, the stumps, and the wicketkeeper. Despite this, Imam quickly engaged in risk-taking behavior with Sodhi.
Imam attempted to counter Sodhi’s turn into him from the rough outside off in the 13th over by skipping down to drive. He was just clean-bowled and defeated in flight. He was out after racing down the pitch for the third time in four innings this series.
Shan Masood was then used by Babar Azam to stabilize Pakistan. Babar got things going quickly, hitting five fours in a stretch of eight overs beginning at the fifteenth. Three of those occurred between midwicket and mid-on, while four occurred on the leg side.
Masood appeared calmer at the opposite end, content to move it about after beginning the day with two off-side fours. He had some anxiety when, in the 23rd over, Bracewell got the outside edge but the ball snuck between the wicketkeeper and slip.
Three balls later, though, Babar inside-edged Bracewell to Tom Latham. Despite being dazzled by the batsman moving across and deep in the crease, Latham did well to go to his left.
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