Opener Imam-ul-Haq anchored Pakistan with a pugnacious half-century as the home team reached 154-3 at the close Tuesday after New Zealand piled up a handy 449 in their first innings of the second Test in Karachi.
At the close of day two, Haq was unbeaten on 74 and Saud Shakeel 13 as the home team need another 96 runs to avoid the follow-on.
Pakistan started chaotically, losing opener Abdullah Shafique (19), Shan Masood (20) and skipper Babar Azam (24) before the Haq-Shakeel stand added 55 runs for the unbroken fourth wicket.
In contrast, New Zealand's tail wagged furiously, with Matt Henry (68 not out) and Ajaz Patel (35) both scoring Test-bests as they added an invaluable 104 runs for the last wicket.
The two-match series is tied after the first Test, also in Karachi, ended in a draw.
The National Stadium pitch offered little to the bowlers, but Pakistan did themselves no favours by having skipper Azam, the team's best batsman, run out.
Haq drove Michael Bracewell towards mid-wicket and saw Azam stranded at his end attempting a third run.
But Haq took charge with his seventh half-century -- even as Shakeel needed 42 balls to get off the mark at the other end.
A gruelling day of Test cricket comes to an end! The final session turned out to be a good classical Test cricket session where both the bowlers and batters were testing out the patience of each other with some disciplined cricket. Pakistan have done well to lose only one wicket in the evening session but have to say, with the lead of 295 under their belt, New Zealand would be the happier side with how things panned out on Day 2.
The heroes of the day for New Zealand were Matt Henry and Ajaz Patel without any doubt. They stitched together a record-breaking stand of 104 for the 10th wicket and took New Zealand to a pole position after they lost three wickets early in the morning session. Henry scored unbeaten 68 with the bat and then came out with the ball with equal zeal and might and got an early wicket of Abdullah Shafique. He also showed his ability to reverse the ball as he bowled with some great rhythm in the final session. Patel too got a wicket to back up his brilliant effort with the bat and though New Zealand would have liked one or two wickets more at the end of Day 2, they would be pretty pleased with their overall effort on the day. They would be looking to get some early wickets on Day 3 but the fact that they got the wicket of Babar Azam wrapped up in a gift hamper as a new year’s gift on this placid deck should encourage them going forward in this Test match.
Pakistan, on the other hand, would feel that they let go many opportunities to take a more stronger position in this game. They got three wickets early in the day but just could not find a way to break the final wicket stand and as a result, New Zealand who were struggling to get to 350 ended up falling just one run short of 450. With the bat too, all three wickets they lost were because of the mistakes of the batters rather than good deliveries getting them out. Both Abdullah Shafique and Shan Masood got good starts but played an expensive shot and paid the price while the skipper, Babar Azam’s promising innings was cut short by a big misunderstanding between him and Imam-ul-Haq. However, Imam-ul-Haq should be credited with the way he kept his composure after running out his skipper and this 55 runs partnership with Saud has made sure that Pakistan do not explode in the final session. Will we see more application from Pakistani batters on Day 3? We shall find out on Day 3 of this Test match which starts at 10.30 am IST (5 am GMT) on Wednesday, 4th of January. Do join us for the build-up. Cheers!