Matt Henry, Ajaz Patel claim honours on second day in Karachi

by Staff  •  Last updated on Tue, Jan 3, 2023, 

NZ were the better team on Day 2 in Karachi © AFP
NZ were the better team on Day 2 in Karachi © AFP

Imam ul Haq led Pakistan’s resistance with the bat after early blows threatened to derail their reply to New Zealand’s 449.

After starring with the bat, Matt Henry and Ajaz Patel were the wicket-takers as well, with the former having Abdullah Shafique pulling down to deep square leg. Patel, after being hit for three boundaries by Shan Masood, had the last laugh by having him caught at point.

To make matters worse in the final session, skipper Babar Azam was involved in a mix-up while going for the third run. It resulted in both Babar and Imam being stranded near the striker’s end and Pakistan losing their third with less than 100 on board.

However, Imam managed to prop the innings up in the company of a resolute Saud Shakeel. Only off the 42nd ball did Shakeel get off the mark but it allowed Imam to breathe easy at the other end, as the runs began to flow. Imam got to his seventh Test fifty with a six off Michael Bracewell, who copped the majority of punishment from Imam having been hit for consecutive boundaries as well previously. New Zealand lost a review against Imam as well, after Bracewell’s turn fooled them into believing there was an edge for a caught behind.

The duo put on an unbeaten 55-run stand that helped Pakistan to even things out at the end, after New Zealand had threatened to pull away, following a lower-order boost with the bat.

New Zealand’s tail had wagged splendidly after Tom Blundell’s 51 helped arrest a slide. A 104-run stand for the last wicket between Matt Henry and Ajaz Patel then tilted the balance firmly towards the visitors.

It had been set up with the bat earlier in the day. Blundell lost his overnight partner, Ish Sodhi early to Naseem Shah, but had some support from skipper Tim Southee who put on 31 with him and helped him get to an eighth Test fifty.

The duo held the innings together briefly with their partnership, but a double blow sunk New Zealand further. Blundell, against the run of play, copped a grubber from Abrar Ahmed and was bowled for 51. Abrar struck once again in the next over, having Southee overbalancing and eventually stumped. It pushed Abrar to the top of the list amongst leading wicket-takers for Pakistan in their first four Tests as he got his 26th.

Pakistan’s hopes of wrapping up New Zealand’s innings within 350 though was short-lived as the last-wicket pair of Matt Henry and Ajaz Patel swung away in a boundary-filled partnership.

Henry’s assault began by taking on Hassan Ali who was hit for three boundaries – drilled through cover, lofted over mid-off and pulled over square leg – off consecutive balls. Meanwhile Ajaz Patel proved to be competent enough to hang in initially, getting off the mark only off the 15h ball he faced but soon grew in confidence to hit Abrar for a boundary. Henry managed to pocket another six by smashing Naseem Shah over midwicket as the duo took New Zealand past 400, which had seemed a long way out when they lost Sodhi on 309.

Henry brought up his third Test fifty off just 42 balls, Ajaz registered his highest Test score and the duo saw off 113 balls, denying Pakistan even during the extra thirty minutes on the first morning and then furthermore in the second before Patel finally holed out in the deep.

Brief Scores: New Zealand 449 (Devon Conway 122, Tom Latham 71, Matt Henry 68*, Tom Blundell 51; Abrar Ahmed 4-149) lead Pakistan 154/3 (Imam ul Haq 74*) by 295 runs

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