New Zealand 440 for 6 (Latham 113, Williamson 105*, Conway 92 , Abrar 3-143) lead Pakistan 438 (Babar 161, Salman 103*, Sarfaraz 86, Southee 3-69) by 2 runs
Starting the day on 165 for 0, New Zealand finished on 440 for 6, two runs ahead of Pakistan’s first-innings score. With Pakistan having the momentum at stumps, the game stands in a tantalising position with two days to go and a tricky pitch to deal with.
Nauman created more chances earlier in the day. Had they been converted, his figures would have looked a lot better than 2 for 137 and Pakistan might well be in control of the whole Test match. He had bowled beautifully to force errors from Williamson when the batter was on 15 and 21, however both times Sarfaraz Ahmed could not pull off the stumping. In fairness to the wicketkeeper, they were moderately tough chances.
Williamson, batting for the first time since giving up the Test captaincy, made his entry in the day’s sixth over following Devon Conway’s dismissal for 92. After a 183-run opening partnership with Latham, Conway was out lbw to Nauman, trapped inside his crease on the back foot. At first, Conway was deemed not out by umpire Aleem Dar but the decision was overturned on review.
However, Latham fell before lunch trying to play a reverse sweep off Abrar that popped up to first slip. Abrar’s second wicket of the day – that of Mitchell – also came via a reverse sweep that went wrong.
Williamson had a watchful start to his innings, trying to find his feet following a lean recent run with the bat. He relied on the sweep to get his early runs, but as the ball got old, he pounced on Abrar’s inconsistency to hit him for three fours through midwicket in the space of seven balls. That pushed him into the 40s, and soon after reached his fifty by punching to extra cover.
After a brief 41-run stand with No. 4 Henry Nicholls ended with the left-hand batter chopping Nauman onto his stumps, Williamson took a back seat with Mitchell leading the run-scoring charge. That allowed him to quietly move into the 70s, which he further added to, once Blundell brought out his strokes. The only time Williamson really went for the big shots was when the spinners pitched it up outside off. Otherwise, he relied on his nudges and nurdles to get the bulk of his runs.
It was late in the day when Williamson reached his century – his 25th in Tests, fifth against Pakistan and first since his 238 in January 2021 against the same opponents. He drove Wasim to mid-off in the 123rd over and reached his landmark. However that wasn’t the end of the day’s action. Michael Bracewell fell late in the day leaving Ish Sodhi, the No. 8, to face 20 balls in a tricky spell of play to stay unbeaten on 1 alongside Williamson.
Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @sreshthx