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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Jeet Raval believes Abu Dhabi wicket going to get harder to bat as New Zealand target first-innings score of 250-plus

Pakistan bowler Bilal Asif: 'The wicket is not that helpful and we got wickets because of our efforts

Jeet Raval believes a 250-plus first-innings total would pose a challenging score for Pakistan after New Zealand finished the first day of the deciding Test match in Abu Dhabi on 229-7.

The left-handed opener's 45 was the second highest score of New Zealand innings behind Kane Williamson's 89.

Raval said it was a good toss to win and expected the wicket to be harder to bat on as the game progressed.

“From our judgment it’s going to get harder and harder,” he said. “I think we got a decent score in the first innings and add a few more tomorrow morning, and then put Pakistan under pressure in their first innings.

“Obviously we want to score as much as possible. Around 250-plus will be awesome.”

BJ Watling, who batted for more than four hours for a fighting 180-ball 42 not out, and William Somerville (12) were at the crease when play was called for the day.

“I think the boys did a fantastic job today, and hopefully BJ and Somerville, on his debut, can carry on the good work when they resume their innings tomorrow morning.”

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New Zealand lost an early wicket to Test debutant Shaheen Afridi, who had Tom Latham trapped lbw on his third over.

Raval and Kane Williamson added 46 for the second wicket before Yasir Shah produced another devastating spell by taking three wickets in 14 deliveries to leave the visitors on 72-4 shortly before lunch.

Pakistan went wicket-less in the middle session before a double blow from Bilal Asif, who took two wickets in seven balls, had New Zealand in bother again.

Raval said the pitch at Zayed Cricket Stadium offered uneven bounce.

“As the game goes on it’s going to be more variable and hopefully that works to our advantage, especially if have to bowl last on this wicket,” added Raval.

“If we can give them a good run to chase I’m sure we’ll be in a good position in the fourth innings.”

The Pakistan off-spinner Bilal offered an alternative analysis to Raval’s assessment of the pitch.

“The wicket is not that helpful and we got wickets because of our efforts,” Bilal said.

“Otherwise this wicket is better than the last two Test wickets we played on. We will try to get them out as early as possible as this match will depend on our first innings total.

“I have been a bit unlucky and not getting wickets but I have been trying hard to improve day by day. I’m trying to do what is good to improve at the international level.”

Williamson occupied the crease for nearly four hours for his 176-ball 89. The Black Caps captain struck seven boundaries but these were the bright points in a day when defence came first.

The normally robust and aggressive Kiwi curbed his attacking instinct as he attempted to carve out a first innings that might give his side some leverage in the match. The scoring rarely got above two an over.

He Williamson shared a 104-run stand for the fifth wicket with Watling after Yasir had claimed his three wickets. Yasir, who has figures of 3-26, needs another two wickets to complete 200 wickets and claim the record in his 33rd Test.

Updated: December 3, 2018 06:41 PM

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