New Zealand reach 26-2, limit Pakistan’s lead to 74

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New Zealand's players appeal for the dismissal of Pakistan's Asda Shafiq in their test match in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Wednesday, Dec. 5. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
New Zealand’s players appeal for the dismissal of Pakistan’s Asda Shafiq in their test match in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Wednesday, Dec. 5. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (AP) — New Zealand’s spinners curtailed Pakistan’s lead to 74 runs despite Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq scoring centuries Wednesday on the third day of the series-deciding third and final test.

Pakistan were cruising along at 286-3 on the back of a double-century stand between Azhar (134) and Shafiq (104) before New Zealand came back strongly to bowl out the home team for 348 after tea.

Debutant Will Somerville (4-75) had to wait until his 22nd over for his first test wicket when Azhar top-edged the tall off-spinner and Ajaz Patel (2-100) dismissed Shafiq to trigger Pakistan’s collapse.

However, openers Tom Latham (10) and Jeet Raval (0) yet again faltered as the visitors finished the day at 26-2 with New Zealand still trailing by 48 runs.

Leg-spinner Yasir Shah (1-5) had Latham caught in the deep and will needs only one wicket on Thursday to become the fastest bowler in test history to complete 200 test wickets.

Incidentally, Pakistan got the same first innings lead in the first test at the same venue before losing narrowly by four runs. Pakistan leveled the series at 1-1 with a resounding innings and 16-run victory in the second test in Dubai.