Shan Masood’s third duck on the trot to end his wretched tour compounded Pakistan woes as the visitors trailed New Zealand by a massive 354 runs at stumps on Day 3, having conceded a first innings lead of 362.
Kane Williamson’s fourth Test double lit up a gloomy, overcast day in Christchurch as the home team piled on runs and records before declaring the first innings on 659/6 that also included a 112-ball maiden hundred for Daryl Mitchell and a brilliant 157 from Henry Nicholls.
The day wholly and solely belonged to the home side, who took one step closer to that Test Championship finale as Williamson and Nicholls added 114 runs in the morning session, without being separated to take their lead past 100.
Nicholls moved into his 90s with the first runs of the morning after Pakistan opened with three maidens on the trot.
Williamson then deservingly pushed his team into the lead in an expensive Shaheen Afridi over as Pakistan tried to trap the Kiwi skipper on the legside and conceded eight byes in the process.
Pakistan’s bowling plans, however, didn’t yield desired results and the one chance Mohammad Abbas created was spilled again by Azhar Ali at gully to reprieve Nicholls on 92.
The duo then kept ticking off the milestones, adding to Pakistan’s frustration. Nicholls raised his seventh Test century with a beautiful drive through the covers off Abbas in his following over.
At 272 runs, the pair had recorded the best fourth wicket partnership ever for New Zealand, and at 293, it was the best partnership in any Test at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch. Upon adding 11 runs to his overnight score of 112, Williamson ticked off another milestone in his illustrated career as he became only the third New Zealand batsman to climb the 7000-run peak in Test cricket.
Nicholls, batting with a calf niggle, stepped on the accelerator right after reaching triple figures more out of necessity.
He took a liking to the directionless bowling of Naseem Shah and Faheem Ashraf with a flurry of boundaries to quickly catch up with his skipper and take New Zealand past 350 in their first innings. Williamson brought up his 150, and New Zealand’s 400, right at the stroke of lunch.
The post Lunch session was frequently interrupted by rain and standing ovations – first when Nicholls edged off Abbas to walk back on 157, and then every time Williamson ticked off a milestone. But there was hardly any respite for Pakistan even after they had gotten past the record 369-run fourth-wicket partnership – the third best for New Zealand for any wicket.
Rain held up play for nearly half an hour post which Afridi sent Watling packing on 7, even though he was also dropped in his short stay in the middle. But that brought Mitchell to the crease, who kicked off in the same vein where Nicholls had left. For Pakistan, it was only an extension of the morning session where Williamson continued with his on-drives and pulls for fun and Mitchell feasted on an exhausted bowling attack to notch up his first Test hundred off just 112 balls.
The second break momentarily had Williamson stranded on 199 but it wasn’t a long delay this time. The New Zealand skipper equaled Brendon McCullum’s record of four double centuries for the country with a single, and another applause followed on 205, when he had recorded the highest Test score against Pakistan for any New Zealand player. Abbas and Afridi, meanwhile, went back to the short ball ploy in search of a wicket. However, Mitchell pulled those away authoritatively to quickly move into the 40s. He got to his second Test fifty off just 71 balls, dominating the century stand with Williamson that came off just 133 balls. Together the pair added 133 runs in less than 26 overs before Pakistan could find a reason to celebrate again.
Williamson upped the ante as he fetched three boundaries off a Faheem Arshaf over but the bowler eventually had the last laugh. Trying to ramp a short ball over the ropes, Williamson sent one straight into the hands of the third man fielder that brought curtains on his stellar knock on 238. The New Zealand captain walked off amidst a rousing standing ovation and applause from the opponents, having batted for over eight hours. The rain-marred, extended session saw New Zealand scoring at just under five an over to add 199 runs to their total.
In search of quick runs, Kyle Jamieson came out and threw his bat at nearly everything, fetching a couple of sixes for himself, and also didn’t hesitate in taking risky singles to pass the strike back on to Mitchell who was on the brink. Once that got out of the way, Williamson called his batsmen back after Mitchell had had enough time to soak in the applause from the crowd on the banks and a dressing room that was on its feet.
Pakistan had 10 overs to survive the day and come back refreshed, after having toiled for 158.5 overs in the field. But Jamieson knocked out Masood early in Pakistan’s second essay that started with five maidens on the trot. There were close shaves for both Abid Ali and nightwatchman Abbas as well, but both survived after DRS reviews as Pakistan finished with 8/1, still needing another 354 to make the hosts bat again.
Brief scores: Pakistan 8/1 (Abid Ali 7*, Kyle Jamieson 1-1) trail New Zealand 659/6 decl. (Kane Williamson 238, Henry Nicholls 157, Daryl Mitchell 102*; Shaheen Afridi 2-101, Mohammad Abbas 2-98) by 354 runs.