KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — New Zealand slipped against Pakistan allrounder Agha Salman’s offspin in the final session after Devon Conway hit his fourth test hundred on the opening day of the second test on Monday.
New Zealand was cruising along at 234-1 on the back of Conway’s 122 off 191 balls before Salman picked up 3-55 and the Black Caps finished the day at 309-6.
Tom Blundell was not out on 30 while Ish Sodhi, who made a career-best 65 in the drawn first test, was unbeaten on 11.
Conway put on two solid century stands with Tom Latham (71) and Kane Williamson (36) in a dominating first two sessions for the Black Caps after Tim Southee won the toss and elected to bat before losing five wickets for 45 runs after tea.
“The surface (pitch) certainly got a little bit drier which offered a little bit more spin for the turners,” Conway said. “The game is certainly evenly poised, we did win those first two sessions, but the way Pakistan have bounced back in that last session certainly brought them back in the game."
Salman pegged back New Zealand with the old ball on a wicket that had some grass and tempted Pakistan to go with three fast bowlers — Mir Hamza, recalled Hasan Ali and fit-again Naseem Shah — and just one specialist spinner Abrar Ahmed.
“I knew there could be a responsibility on me as a second spinner for which I was ready,” Salman said. “The wicket had a bite (for spinners) after tea as it got dried up and it troubled them.”
Salman ignited the collapse when he found the outside edge of Conway’s bat that ended his 100-run stand with Williamson. The offspinner, who bowled 12-over spell after tea, hit back the off stump of Daryl Mitchell (3) with his turning delivery before successfully overturning a caught behind decision through TV referral against Henry Nicholls (26).
Earlier, Conway and Latham contributed a second successive century opening stand in the two-match series before Naseem Shah (2-44) brought the lone success in the first two sessions when he had Latham trapped leg before wicket of a full delivery after lunch but New Zealand added further 107 runs in the post-lunch session.
Naseem was rewarded for his reverse swing when he also found the outside edge of Williamson's bat and was brilliantly snapped by diving Sarfaraz Ahmed in front of first slip soon after Salman had dismissed Conway.
Both lefthanders Conway and Latham dominated the pace and spin in the first session to produce 119 runs and even showed aggression against Abrar’s mystery spin after captain Babar Azam turned to his ace spinner as early as in the ninth over.
Leftarm fast bowler Hamza twice came close to gaining a breakthrough in his return spell before lunch, but first Latham successfully overturned onfield umpire Alex Wharf’s lbw ruling and then Pakistan went for an unsuccessful leg before wicket TV referral against Conway before he also completed a half century.
Hasan Ali, playing his first test since July, twice found the edges of Conway’s bat in successive overs after lunch only to see the ball fall short of Abdullah Shafique in the slips and then Saud Shakeel couldn’t hold onto a sharp chance in gully while diving full length to his right when the lefthander was 11 shy of his hundred.
Conway completed his century off 156 balls with 13 fours and a six with a flick of Hamza to midwicket and ran three while Williamson also kept the bowlers at bay with his determined batting before Salman struck after tea.
“Personally, it’s been a good ride so far when you have played a handful of test games,” Conway said after completing his fourth hundred in only his 12th test match. “It’s just nice to get an opportunity to play and contribute for the team.”
Both Conway and Latham batters motored New Zealand to 63 inside the first hour and batted aggressively against fast bowlers Naseem Shah and Hasan Ali, who made comebacks to test cricket.
Conway raised New Zealand’s half century with a six against the mystery spinner Ahmed over wide mid-on as Pakistan struggled to get through the defenses.
New Zealand, on its first test tour to Pakistan since 2002, had made a strong bid to chase down 138 in the last hour of the first test of the two-match series last Friday after Pakistan captain Babar Azam made a daring declaration. Poor visibility halted the Black Caps at 61-1 in the eighth over to draw the game.
The Pakistan Cricket Board was forced to organize both test matches in Karachi due to weather concerns in Multan, where winter smog and fog have delayed flights and may have disrupted hours of play.
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