Ton-up Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq put Pakistan in control of Abu Dhabi Test

Waseem Ahmed 17:53 05/12/2018
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Pakistani batsmen Azhar Ali (l) and Asad Shafiq.

Pakistan batsmen Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq hit sublime centuries to put the hosts in complete control of deciding third Test against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi.

Azhar hit a composed 134 while Shafiq scored a fine 104 and as the two added a series-defining 201 runs for the fourth wicket, helping Pakistan overtake New Zealand’s total of 274 and post 348 – an overall lead of 74.

That lead proved crucial as the Kiwis lost two quick wickets before stumps were drawn on Day Three.

Debutant seamer Shaheen Afridi dismissed opener Jeet Raval for a duck while leg-spinner Yasir Shah had Tom Latham out for 10 as New Zealand were reduced to 26-2, still trailing by 48 runs.

Shah thus moved to within one wicket of the 200 mark in Test cricket. The veteran leg-spinner is set to become the quickest to 200 Test wickets in his 33rd match.

But the day belonged to Azhar and Shafiq. Azhar edged medium pacer Colin de Grandhomme through slips for a boundary to score his first century since the May 2017 Dominica match against the West Indies and his first against the Kiwis. He took 210 balls to reach three figures, hitting 12 boundaries.

Shafiq, meanwhile, eased to the 12th century of his career with a single off Will Somerville before falling to Ajaz Patel. He hit 14 fours during his 259-ball knock. Both fell within a short span of time in the middle session. Azhar mistimed a sweep off Somerville while Shafiq was trapped leg-before by Patel as the scoreboard read 304-5.

From there, Kiwi bowlers kept taking wickets at regular intervals. Debutant spinner Somerville finished with respectable figures of 4-75.

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