Mon, 17 Dec 2018
21
Auckland

BJ Watling's gritty 77 pushes New Zealand to 274

ESPNCricInfo
04 Dec 2018, 18:42 GMT+10

3:00 AM ET

Lunch Pakistan 0 for 1 (Imam 0*, Boult 1-0) v New Zealand 274 (Williamson 89, Watling 77*, Bilal 5-65, Yasir 3-75)

Having faced 180 balls for 42 on the first day, BJ Watling would have slept rather soundly. He can look forward to another good rest tonight, already having earned it this morning with a continuation of the pluck and fortitude that characterised his batting yesterday. Another 70 balls were faced as William Somerville gave him adequate company as Watling added another 35 runs to his tally.

New Zealand added 45 more to their overnight total before they were dismissed for 274, Bilal Asif taking his second five-for in five Tests, solely accounting for the bottom half of New Zealand's line-up as Pakistan took the best part of the morning session getting rid of the remaining three wickets. It left Pakistan's out-of-form openers an awkward couple of overs to bat before lunch, and Trent Boult compounded Mohammad Hafeez's woes, drawing an outside edge to allow Tim Southee take a low catch at second slip.

Bilal, whose position in the side was already beginning to be questioned - a mere three Tests after he took six wickets in his debut innings - earned himself some breathing room with his performance over the past four sessions. Even when he wasn't among the wickets yesterday, he was as good as the irrepressible Yasir Shah, and today, he was the only bowler who looked like breaking through. Somerville, who had clung on for 99 balls to make his 12 runs, was the first to go as he misread the extent of the turn on a Bilal offbreak, allowing the ball to beat the slice of the blade and go on to hit the middle stump.

Ajaz Patel and Trent Boult didn't quite offer the same level of resistance, and with Watling never showing any interest in farming the strike, Bilal had full freedom to go after the pair. He got the outside edge of Ajaz for a simple catch at slip, and beat the inside edge of Boult, knocking back his stumps, with Watling stranded at the other end, looking like he could partner another ten batsmen and still carry his bat at the end of it.

In the first hour and a bit, when the eighth wicket put on 45 in 171 balls, it had been slow going, not that it frustrated Pakistan any less. Watling was quick to dispatch a ball that missed its line, constantly pressurising Yasir to execute his plans perfectly. Yasir, for his part, wasn't quite at his majestic best, and failed to add to his pre-lunch salvo yesterday, meaning taking the two wickets that will break Clarrie Grimmett's record of fastest to 200 Test wickets will have to be put on hold for one more innings.

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