Pakistan face uphill battle in Karachi Test against New Zealand

Williamson hits double century in first Test to put visitors in command

New Zealand's Kane Williamson en route to his double century against Pakistan in the first Test in Karachi on Thursday, December 29, 2022. AFP
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Pakistan will have to bat out the final day of the opening Test against New Zealand in Karachi if they are to avoid a fourth straight home defeat in red-ball cricket.

Kane Williamson's double century set the stage for the Kiwis to push for victory on a docile pitch at the National Stadium. The visitors posted a gargantuan 612-9 declared in their first innings for a 174-run lead over Pakistan's score of 438.

The home side finished the fourth day on a precarious 77-2, with Imam-ul-Haq on 45 and nightwatchman Nauman Ali on four.

Babar Azam is already under pressure after overseeing a first ever Test series whitewash at home against England in the preceding series and defeat here will amplify the scrutiny with a new selection committee and board chairman in place.

New Zealand's Ish Sodhi, centre, celebrates the wicket of Pakistan's Shan Masood. AP

Opener Abdullah Shafique was the first wicket to fall as he tried to lift off-spinner Michael Bracewell over the infield and was caught at mid-on for 17.

Then Shan Masood was adjudged leg before off Ish Sodhi for 10 before Haq and Nauman saw off the day.

Earlier, the Black Caps declared just after Williamson lifted spinner Abrar Ahmed over extra cover for his 21st boundary and then raised his fifth double hundred with a single.

Abrar, who took 17 wickets in two Test matches against England earlier this month, finished with 5-205 but not before Williamson and Sodhi had extended the lead with a 159-run seventh-wicket stand on a slow wicket.

Spinners Abrar and Nauman (3-185) slogged collectively for nearly 131 overs and the bowlers' task was made tougher by the overall sloppiness of the side.

The hosts dropped three catches, missed a couple of stumpings and twice opted against reviews which would have resulted in wickets.

Wicketkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmed, making a test comeback after four years, was one of the main culprits as he fumbled stumping opportunities when Williamson was on 15 and 21. The former Kiwi captain made Pakistan pay for the mistakes.

Updated: December 29, 2022, 1:16 PM