New Zealand's captain Kane Williamson celebrates his double century at Hagley Oval in Christchurch on Tuesday. AFP
Gulf Today Report
Skipper Kane Williamson scored his fourth Test double-century to underline his status as the world's premier batsman as New Zealand took control of the second Test against Pakistan at Hagley Oval in Christchurch on Tuesday.
Henry Nicholls and Daryl Mitchell also notched up tons to fuel hosts’ bid for a 2-0 series sweep in the second and final Test.
Williamson scored 238 and collaborated in a marathon 369-run partnership, a New Zealand record for the fourth wicket, with Nicholls, who made 157.
Williamson then allowed Mitchell to complete his maiden Test century before declaring New Zealand’s first innings on 659-6.
At stumps on day three, the tourists were already in trouble at eight for one, with Kyle Jamieson adding to his five-wicket haul in the first innings by removing Shan Masood for a duck.
Pakistan's Abid Ali (left) and Naseem Shah greet New Zealand's Kane Williamson for his 238 runs innings. AFP
It was a relentless performance from Williamson, who was in classic form, batting for nine hours 33 minutes to become only the second New Zealander after Brendon McCullum to score four double centuries.
Mitchell, who wondered if he would ever get a bat while Williamson was at the crease, described his skipper as "a freak who's set us up with a chance to win." Williamson delayed the declaration until Mitchell completed his maiden century and the all-rounder said despite his unbeaten 102 off 112 balls it remained a good pitch for the bowlers and should produce a result.
"If we put it in the right areas and bang those hard lengths, there is a lot of pace there and hopefully we can put Pakistan under some pressure and see what happens," he said.
Williamson should have been out for 177 on the first ball after the first of two rain stoppages, but as has happened several times in the Test the chance was put down, this time by Azhar Ali, who earlier in the day had dropped Henry Nicholls short of his century.
Pakistan's Shaheen Shah Afridi bowls on day three of the second cricket Test against New Zealand. AFP
Pakistan spinner Zafar Gohar, who went for an expensive 159 off 32 overs on debut, said the fielding errors hurt.
"The dropped catches cost us. There is no reason to drop catches but it happens in cricket," he said.
"Dropping Kane Williamson cost us a lot of big runs." Williamson and Nicholls had rebuilt the innings after New Zealand were reduced to 71 for three on Monday's second day.
By the time Nicholls was dismissed early in the afternoon session for 157, the pair had put on 369, the third-best all-time partnership for New Zealand and a record for the fourth wicket.
The day had resumed with New Zealand 286 for three, 11 runs in arrears and with conditions favourable for the bowlers who had cloud cover and a ball only five overs old.
But for every plan Pakistan set to dismiss Williamson, he had an answer -- with a range of strokes from silky touches to powerful drives.
Along the way he followed Ross Taylor and Stephen Fleming in becoming the third New Zealander to pass 7,000 runs.
The end came for Williamson three overs before tea when he skied a short ball from Faheem Ashraf and was caught in the deep by Masood.
In four innings from three Tests in the past month Williamson has scored 251, 129, 21 and 238.
Nicholls, dropped on 92 and 133, was hampered by a calf strain which left him hobbling between the wickets.
But he was still able to attack, with boundaries producing 48 of his 68 runs on day three, before he top-edged a short ball from Mohammad Abbas and was caught at deep fine leg.Should New Zealand win the Test it will confirm their ranking as the number one side in the world for the first time -- to go with Williamson's promotion as the number one batsman -- and keep alive their chances of making the World Test Championship final.
The 34-year-old Alam played his last Test match against New Zealand in November of 2009 and is a strong candidate for the first test. It starts at Old Trafford on Aug. 5. Selectors left out Iftikhar Ahmed.
The series held major significance for a host nation deprived of all forms of international cricket for almost a decade. Pakistan had been forced to play its home series outside the country, mostly in the United Arab Emirates, since 2009.
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