ABU DHABI // Tom Latham hit his first career hundred but Pakistan managed to secure a big lead in their bid to win the first Test against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi yesterday.
The left-handed opener scored 103 to defy the Pakistani bowlers as wickets fell at the other end with paceman Rahat Ali (four for 22) and spinner Zulfiqar Babar (three for 79) wrapping up New Zealand’s first innings at 262.
That gave Pakistan a 304-run lead and, despite their opponents falling 105 runs short of the follow-on mark, the hosts batted again to finish the third day at 15-0.
Mohammad Hafeez (five) and Azhar Ali (nine) were at the crease as Pakistan led by 319 runs with two days left to push for a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Pakistan had declared their first innings at 566 for three.
New Zealand opener Latham followed his father, Rod, to hit a Test hundred for his country to become the third New Zealand father and son, and the 11th overall, to score Test centuries.
Latham was a relieved man after following in the footsteps of his father, who scored a century against Zimbabwe in 1992.
“I spoke with him [Rod] in the morning and obviously now I have a Test hundred and I know he would be proud,” said the left-hander.
Latham said he was relieved after scoring three fifties in the West Indies in June.
“It was a little bit of relief as in the West Indies I had three half centuries in a row. It was a little bit disappointing not to kick on then so it was nice to score a ton in the first innings and in the first Test.
“To achieve that milestone certainly I’m very proud. It is a little bit of confidence with your technique and confidence up my sleeves hopefully I can continue that in the next two matches.”
The Pakistan camp received a setback as first innings centurion Ahmed Shahzad has been ruled out of the remainder of the Test series after he fractured his skull when he misjudged a bouncer yesterday.
“The specialist surgeon has confirmed a minor fracture and has advised 48 hours of close monitoring,” team manager Moin Khan said.
“Since Shahzad had been advised not to participate in sporting activity for a minimum of three weeks, and he could take no further part in the ongoing Test match, it was considered prudent to send him back home for complete rest and recuperation.”
Latham kept one end intact as New Zealand recovered from a precarious 47 for three to 215 for five after Babar and Rahat had jolted them in the morning session.
Latham, whose previous best of 83 came against the West Indies this year, hit 13 boundaries during his patient 222-ball knock and added 83 for the fourth wicket with Corey Anderson who made 48.
He was finally out lbw off Rahat with New Zealand at 215 for six.
BJ Watling (42) and Ish Sodhi (25) had a ninth-wicket stand of 43 runs but Yasir Shah bowled Sodhi and Babar had Watling lbw to end the innings.
The National’s verdict
On a wicket that was not doing much, New Zealand would have expected to post a much higher total. But to put it in context, Pakistan had declared on 566 for three after their first innings, which is a total that would be daunting to the best sides in the world let alone the relatively inexperienced one New Zealand have brought to the Emirates. The home team have predictably opted to bat again instead of enforcing the follow on, as they did successfully at the same venue against Australia. They will build an insurmountable lead, which already stands at 319, before another likely declaration that will come with plenty of time left to roll the Kiwis out and claim victory.
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