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New Zealand

Southee, spinners secure New Zealand a historic series win

Pak v NZ, 3rd Test, day 5 report

Tim Southee, William Somerville and Ajaz Patel took three wickets apiece to earn New Zealand a fantastic 123-run victory over Pakistan to take the series 2-1.

After quickly setting Pakistan a target of 280, thanks to centuries from Kane Williamson and Henry Nicholls, New Zealand bowled Pakistan out for 156 on the fifth day of the third and final Test in Abu Dhabi to win their first away series against Pakistan since 1969.

Things began horrendously for Pakistan with Tim Southee getting the new ball to talk. He first drew a hasty drive from Mohammad Hafeez to second slip, where Kane Williamson – who had been dismissed on the first ball of the day by Hasan Ali – let it burst through his hands. But the New Zealander didn't have his head in his hands for long, as Southee got one to straighten and scatter the retiring batsman's stumps for just eight.

Azhar Ali was also troubled by the early seam movement, and feathered one to the wicket-keeper off Colin de Grandhomme for just five. With the quicks making early inroads, it was then the spinners' turn to wreak havoc. 

Somerville, who had taken 4/75 in Pakistan's first innings to keep them to 348 despite tons from Azhar and Asad Shafiq, struck two successive blows to set Pakistan back. He first induced an edge off Sohail to second slip with turn and bounce, nabbing him for nine, and then got Shafiq to tickle one down the legside. Shafiq would have gotten away with it had it not for New Zealand's review.

It was very nearly three for Somerville before lunch itself, when he struck Babar Azam seemingly plumb in front, but a review proved Azam had got bat on it. 

Tim Southee dismissed Bilal Asif to end some staunch resistance
Tim Southee dismissed Bilal Asif to end some staunch resistance

Imam-ul-Haq had looked good playing a more expansive game, especially targeting Ajaz Patel's left-arm spin. But the bowler had the last laugh, Imam getting an inside edge onto his pads for 22, which resulted in a simple catch at short leg. Pakistan had been reduced to 55/5 at the stroke of lunch.

Sarfraz Ahmed and Azam looked to play positively after lunch, which produced a partnership of 43 runs until Sarfraz was bamboozled by Somerville for 28. Bilal Asif never looked at ease but stuck it out for 48 deliveries to raise hopes of Pakistan salvaging the match.

Tim Southee decided to test him with short stuff, occasionally slipping in the fuller one. Asif was so rattled that he even ducked into a length ball  and survived an lbw shout for it! before finally nicking one to the keeper.

Yasir Shah also faced the barrage and top-edged a simple catch off another Southee short ball to short cover when trying to hit his way out of trouble, leaving Pakistan close to 30 overs to face with just two wickets in hand.

All that while Azam continued to bat solidly and took on the Southee short balls with cracking pull shots. He brought up his half-century with a drive to cover, but he tried to go for a big hit off Patel shortly after, miscuing to mid-off where Tim Southee ran back to take a stunner.

Hasan Ali then miscued an attempted slog off Somerville to point, and New Zealand had secured the series without letting the match go into the third session.

Earlier, Williamson had been trapped in front first ball of the day by Hasan Ali to fall for his overnight 139. But Colin de Grandhomme came out and whacked a quickfire 26, including two fours and two sixes to enhance the lead. Nicholls, on 90 overnight, recorded a brilliant ton and played a plethora of fine strokes.

Leg-spinner Yasir Shah had removed de Grandhomme and Watling off successive balls, but by then New Zealand had a substantial lead. After a Tim Southee six and a few more quick runs from Nicholls, New Zealand decided to make a sporting declaration just 47 minutes into the day's play, leaving Pakistan close to 80 overs to get 280. It proved to be enough time for New Zealand to secure a comfortable win.

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