x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Kiwis staring down the barrel

Asif takes three as Pakistan look set to level the series by leaving the hosts with a daunting target of another 335 runs and seven wickets in hand.

Mohammad Asif struck three times as New Zealand managed to knock off just 70 of the 405 runs they require for victory in the second Test against Pakistan in the final session of day three in Wellington. After bowling Pakistan out for 239 in their second innings on the stroke of tea New Zealand faced the daunting task of chasing down the fourth highest last innings score in a winning effort with two days remaining at the Basin Reserve and at stumps had reached 70 for three to trail by 335 runs. Only the West Indies (418 for seven against Australia in May 2003), South Africa (414 for four against Australia in December last year) and India (406 for four against the West Indies in April 1976) have won chasing greater targets than New Zealand face in Wellington. Asif finished the day with three wickets for 19 runs from his 11 overs to leave Pakistan firmly in the driving seat and on course to level the three-Test series after New Zealand's 32-run win in the opener in Dunedin. The chase began with the loss of an early wicket as opener Tim McIntosh lasted just four balls before he was trapped leg before wicket by Asif. Martin Guptill and Daniel Flynn added another 32 runs for the second wicket before Guptill got an inside edge onto his stumps to give Asif his second scalp. His third followed in his next over when Flynn's dogged 39-ball innings of 20 ended when he edged behind to wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal to leave New Zealand in the precarious position of 37 for three. Ross Taylor and Peter Fulton survived till stumps after being dropped on 13 and three respectively.

Resuming at the overnight 64 for two, Pakistan crept along cautiously Misbah-ul-Haq got a thick edge to Brendon McCullum to give Iain O'Brien his third scalp of the innings with the pair having added 67 runs since morning. Umar Akmal joined Mohammed Yousuf and infused the momentum with a brisk 32-ball 52 with the help of six boundaries before holing out to Daniel Vettori. Shoaib Malik and Yousuf pushed Pakistan through the 200-run mark but Malik edged to McCullum from the fifth delivery he faced from Grant Elliott, then Kamran Akmal did the same the next ball to leave Pakistan 210 for six. New Zealand took the new ball immediately and lapped up the tail. Yousuf was out for 83 when Chris Martin had him trapped leg before wicket - but only after Vettori had asked for a review when Rudi Koertzen turned down the initial appeal. Martin finished with figures of four for 52, while O'Brien took four for 66 and Elliott two for eight in five overs. O'Brien later declared that he would be retiring after this game. The 33-year-old said he wanted to spend time with his wife Rosie, who stays in England since their marriage two and half years ago.