Cautious Williamson stands firm as Pakistan stifle New Zealand

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CHRISTCHURCH (AFP) – Pakistan pinned down New Zealand with a sustained period of accurate bowling in an absorbing middle session on day two of the second Test in Christchurch on Monday, leaving Kane Williamson to prop up his side once again.

Williamson, newly installed as the world’s top-ranked Test batsman, had scored a patient 40 with Henry Nicholls on a fortuitous 25 as New Zealand reached 145 for three at tea to trail Pakistan by 152.

Despite the renewed venom and tight lines from Shaheen Afridi, Faheem Ashraf and Mohammad Abbas, the sole reward for the tourists was the wicket of Ross Taylor for 12.

They should also have had Nicholls for three, caught behind, but the middle-order batsman was called back when a no ball from Afridi was detected.

It is the second time in as many Tests that Williamson and Nicholls have been required to build the innings after they put on 133 for the fourth wicket in New Zealand’s first innings of the first Test.

Taylor, on 10 at lunch, looked uncomfortable from the time play resumed.

He weathered 12 balls without scoring from Afridi and then had to regret calling Williamson through for a leg bye off Abbas in the following over.

The next ball from Abbas was short and moving away outside the off-stump enticing Taylor who thrust out the bat without conviction and the ball was edged to Shan Masood at second slip.

Apart from the first hour when Tom Latham and Tom Blundell put on a 50-run opening stand, Pakistan have been in charge.

Abbas has been particularly miserly with one for 18 off 12 overs while Ashraf has one for 22 off 11.

New Zealand were 66 for two at lunch after Latham (33) and Blundell (16) had batted largely out of their crease, forcing Pakistan’s seamers to adjust.

Faheem, in his sixth Test, adapted quickly and was rewarded in his fourth over when a succession of good length, jagging back deliveries eventually trapped Blundell in front.

Afridi, who had till then failed to threaten, was brought back following Blundell’s wicket and instantly made Latham chase a delivery outside off stump.

Latham nicked to Masood who spilled the chance at second slip only for his blushes to be spared by the quick reflexes of Haris Sohail who grasped the ball on the rebound from first slip.

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