New Zealand have turned back the Test clock in their match against Pakistan in Karachi, leaving the likes of Kerry O'Keeffe beaming with pride over their fielding tactics late on day four. Having set the home side a second innings target of 319 to win, New Zealand found themselves in a commanding position after managing to take two wickets without giving away a run before stumps.
Pakistan will resume at 2-0 on day five after Abdullah Shafique and Mir Hamza were both clean bowled in consecutive overs late on day four. Imam-ul-Haq was left as the lone batter at the crease as play was called for the day following Hamza's wicket.
New Zealand set a vintage field around Hamza for his final over, with spinner Ish Sodhi benfitting from having every fielder crowded around the bat, hoping the nightwatchman would bobble a miscued shot into the air. Such a crowded field ultimately proved unnecessary, with Sodhi's leg spin finding its way to the stumps.
The unconventional field setting was a win in the eyes of O'Keeffe though, who declared 'long live Test cricket' upon seeing footage of the tactic. There was plenty of time for the Fox Cricket commentator to discuss the match, given the third Test between Australia and South Africa continued to be held up by rain on day three.
“It warmed the cockles of my heart, as a spinner,” he said. "I see leg spinners in short form bowling with no slip trying to get an edge from a right-hander.
“To see everyone crowding the batter, that’s Test cricket to me. That’s where a wrist spinner excels, not bowling four tight overs. More power to (skipper Tim Southee) and Ish Sodhi for setting that field. I hope we see a lot more of it over the next decade. Long live Test cricket!”
New Zealand set Pakistan record-breaking target for Test victory
Pakistan still have a chance but must beat their previous highest successful chase of 314 in 1994 when they beat Australia by one wicket at the same National Stadium. Earlier, New Zealand had taken a 41-run, first-innings lead after dismissing Pakistan for 408.
Then, Tom Blundell (74) and Michael Bracewell (74 not out) firmed up the visitors' victory push with a 127-run stand, with Southee making a late declaration after Blundell holed out in the deep going for quick runs. It was an eventful day when incorrect decisions from umpires Alex Wharf and Aleem Dar took centre stage.
New Zealand successfully overturned Wharf's two leg before decisions in favour of legspinner Abrar Ahmed and Dar erred when his caught behind ruling against Henry Nicholls (5) was overturned. Pakistan didn't go for an lbw referral after Tom Latham (62) hit his second successive half-century when Wharf ruled for the batter and video suggested the ball would have hit the leg stump.
Blundell also successfully overturned an lbw decision before he scored and was dropped by wicketkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmed just before tea. Sarfaraz also dropped Bracewell soon after he completed his half-century and missed a stumping of Daryl Mitchell just before the New Zealand declaration.
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