Tea Pakistan 337 for 5 (Shakeel 101*, Salman 4*, Mitchell 1-0) trail New Zealand 449 by 112 runs
It took some nimble glovework by Tom Blundell to stump Sarfaraz minutes before tea, with the batter’s heel not completely grounded. It was a tight call in the end, with the third umpire checking multiple replays from various angles before ruling it out. What led to the dismissal was Sarfaraz missing a delivery angling down leg, and losing balance. Eventually, his back leg ended close to his front leg, which he tried to drag back, only for Blundell to whip the bails off despite taking the ball well down the leg side.
That piece of action came just two balls after Sarfaraz had been saved by the DRS after umpire Alex Wharf had ruled him out leg before wicket off Mitchell’s first delivery. Replays showed a thin inside edge after Sarfaraz had reviewed it immediately. But before Daryl Mitchell took the ball – which was in the penultimate over before tea – the match seemed to be only trudging along towards a drab finish despite the hosts picking up pace.
But Sarfaraz and Shakeel had started the session rather quickly, getting 33 runs off the first six overs before things slowed down. Ajaz Patel suffered the most, getting smashed for 41 off his last five overs, as Sarfaraz mostly used the paddle sweep against him. New Zealand took the second new ball soon after, but even that proved to be futile, with Sarfaraz negating any possible movement by walking down and getting across off to play Tim Southee.
He got to his third fifty in a row off 61 balls, while Shakeel continued to be patient at the other end. He drove and swept Michael Bracewell each time the offspinner went full or wide, before picking back-to-back boundaries off Ajaz to get into the 90s in the 94th over. Two overs later, Sarfaraz got three more fours off Ajaz before Shakeel’s risky single on 99 gave him his first century.
For once, only Blundell and the slip fielders behind appealed after Imam played and missed, and convinced their captain to review the not-out verdict. Replays showed a faint nick off the toe end of the bat, and Imam walked back after falling for 96 in the second innings of the first Test. Two deliveries later, Imam couldn’t resist his temptation to gift the visitors his wicket.
That remained the only piece of eventful action until then; but with Sarfaraz coming in next and legspinner Ish Sodhi operating at the other end, some cat-and-mouse stuff followed. Facing his third ball – and the first from Sodhi – Sarfaraz was beaten on the outside edge when the ball was drifted in on a good length on middle and leg stump, only for it to turn past his bat on off. Two deliveries later, Sarfaraz brought his trademark paddle sweep to get off the mark, fetching it from outside off.
Meanwhile, Southee continued to be effective, as a watchful Shakeel – who had taken 42 balls to score his first run the previous evening – was beaten and kept quiet, with the right-arm seamer angling it across the left-hander while persisting with a full length. However, Shakeel kept ticking relatively quicker against Sodhi, who brought the ball into him.
But Sarfaraz chose to keep pushing at Sodhi, skipping down the pitch, fending away and at times looking tentative, with the tall bowler’s turn, bounce and dip. In the end, it was the batter who took the advantage back during the break, hitting Sodhi for two fours just before lunch.
The DRS then came into play in the final over before the interval too, when Southee reviewed the leg-before call off Matt Henry against Shakeel, only for the good-length ball shown to be pitching just outside leg.
Himanshu Agrawal is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo