New Zealand edge ahead in first Test against Pakistan after Latham and Williamson tons

Visitors reach 440-6 on day three after sloppy fielding from hosts in Karachi

New Zealand's Tom Latham, right, and Kane Williamson both cored centuries in the first Test against Pakistan in Karachi on Wednesday, December 28, 2022. AP
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Kane Williamson and Tom Latham carried New Zealand's batting on their shoulders once again as the visitors reached 440-6 by stumps on the third day of the first Test against Pakistan in Karachi.

Williamson, who stepped down from the captaincy in his team’s first Test tour to Pakistan in 20 years, capitalised on two missed stumpings to hit an unbeaten 105 as the Black Caps earned a slender lead of two.

Williamson's 25th Test ton was his first in international cricket since his 238, also against Pakistan, in Christchurch in January last year.

He built on a solid foundation laid down by openers Latham, who hit 113, and Devon Conway, who fell for 92.

Nauman Ali spun one past the bat and into Conway's pad to remove the opener who was initially ruled not out but had to go after Pakistan reviewed the decision by umpire Aleem Dar.

Latham took a single off Abrar Ahmed to bring up his 13th Test hundred, the most by a New Zealand opener, in his 69th match.

The left-handed batsman used his feet against the spinners and looked confident until an attempted reverse sweep against Abrar brought about his downfall.

While the National Stadium pitch looks flat at the moment, it is likely to break up on days four and five. Any significant lead here will be critical as that would put pressure on Pakistan to score runs in the second innings, and not just defend.

Williamson pushed fast bowler Mohammad Wasim for a sharp single to complete his hundred, a fifth against Pakistan.

Pakistan's captain Babar Azam, right, rues another missed chance on Wednesday. AFP

However, it could all have been so different for Pakistan. They will rue missed chances as wicketkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmed fumbled two stumpings with Williamson on 15 and 21. Spinner Nauman Ali was the unlucky bowler on both occasions.

"I think they were chances but one of the deliveries was on the leg side and Sarfaraz did his best," said Nauman.

"This pitch is on the slow side so our effort will be to get the last four wickets early on day four and then set a good target of close to 200 - which will be good on this pitch."

Tom Blundell (47) and Daryl Mitchell (42) played useful knocks and shared half-century stands with Williamson against some poor Pakistan fielding.

Blundell was dropped low down by Imam-ul-Haq at short mid-wicket before paceman Mohammad Wasim had him lbw late in the day.

There was more drama off the field. Captain Babar Azam was among at least three Pakistan players hit by a virus and didn’t take the field at the start. He stayed off until half an hour after lunch.

Latham, who hit 10 boundaries in his innings, believes New Zealand are in good shape to push for victory.

"The pitch has started to take more turn from the footmarks so obviously it's not going to get any easier for batting," he said.

"Hopefully, from the position we are in, we can get as many ahead as possible and put Pakistan under pressure."

Updated: December 28, 2022, 2:39 PM