Medium pacer Hasan Ali and leg-spinner Yasir Shah took five wickets apiece to set Pakistan on the victory path on the third day of the first Test against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
Hasan took his maiden five-wicket haul with 5-45 while Yasir finished with 5/110 – his 14th five-wicket feat in an innings – as New Zealand collapsed from 220/4 to 249 all out soon after tea.
That left Pakistan with 176 to win the Test and at close they were 37/0 with Imam-ul-Haq on 25 not out and Mohammad Hafeez unbeaten on eight, needing another 139 to win with all ten wickets in hand and two days to play.
With the Sheikh Zayed Stadium pitch not worrisome for batting Pakistan has high hopes of enforcing a 1-0 lead in the three-match series while New Zealand can take heart from the fact that Pakistan lost a Test here against Sri Lanka by 21 runs after set 136 to win last year.
Bradley-John Watling with 59 and Henry Nicholls with 55 had defied Pakistan in the post lunch session with a fighting stand of 112 for the fifth wicket but Yasir took four wickets off just 15 balls to bring his team back into contention.
Pakistan took the second new ball with the total at 201-4 soon after tea and Yasir had Nicholls caught beautifully by wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed and then in his next over trapped Coiln de Grandhomme leg-before for three.
Nicholls hit three boundaries in his 171-ball resistance-packed knock. An over later, Yasir ended Watling’s 145-ball defiance with a leg-before and then bowled Neil Wagner for nought. Watling had five boundaries in his knock.
Hasan then wrapped up the innings by bowling Ish Sodhi for 18 and Trent Boult caught off a miscued drive for nought to improve on his previous best figures of 4-51 against England at Lord’s in May this year.
New Zealand were in danger of losing the Test today after three quick wickets fell in the space of just 22 runs in the first session with Hasan taking two in the same over.
But Watling survived a leg-before decision on review after umpire Bruce Oxenford raised his finger off Bilal Asif for 15. Watling took full advantage of the reprieve and added 67 in the second session without losing a wicket.
It was Hasan who brought Pakistan back in the first session. Hasan, who had opener Tom Latham yesterday, trapped a dangerous looking Taylor leg-before with a sharp incoming delivery for 19 and then had Jeet Raval caught behind by wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed for 46.
Raval had added 86 for the second wicket with Kane Williamson who made 37. Raval hit five boundaries in his 120-ball knock.
Resuming at 56-1 New Zealand had pinned hopes on their skipper Williamson. But it was Raval who smashed two boundaries and then took a single off Mohammad Abbas to take New Zealand into the lead.
But just 12 runs into the lead Williamson was bowled by leg-spinner Yasir Shah to a ball that beat the batsman’s push and removed the bail. The second Test is in Dubai (November 24-28) and the third in Abu Dhabi (December 3-7).