HAMILTON, New Zealand: Ross Taylor shrugged off his eye problems to score a superb unbeaten century as New Zealand set Pakistan a formidable 369-run target to win the second Test on Monday.
Taylor finished 102 not out despite only being cleared to play two days before the Test after scarring on his left eye threatened his vision. He was due to have surgery on Wednesday.
New Zealand declared late on the fourth day in Hamilton at 313 for 5 and Pakistan were one without loss after facing three overs before stumps. Both sides vowed there would be no holding back on the final day with Pakistan needing to win to keep their world number two ranking and New Zealand looking to improve on seventh place.
“All going well that last session could be really entertaining,” said Taylor, who was pleased he made the decision to play.
“There were definitely thoughts going through my mind not to play so it was nice to draw on a bit of experience — I’ve been in that situation before — and put the team in a good place.
“Probably for the past year, for the first five to 10 balls of the innings I haven’t picked up the balls as I would have liked.”
– Win or bust –
Pakistan quick Mohammad Amir dismissed talk of playing for a draw. “We like to be among the top teams in the world and we will try our best to retain that,” he said. “We will definitely try to go for the target. The first session will be very important.”
The tourists will have to better the record fourth-innings succesful run chase at Seddon Park of 212 for 4 by Australia in 2000 to win on Tuesday’s final day and save the two-Test series.
The highest fourth-innings total on the ground is 344 for 6 by Sri Lanka in a drawn Test nearly 26 years ago.
New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson declared after a trademark cut to the boundary from Taylor took him to his century.
Earlier Tom Latham laid the foundations for the declaration with a battling 80 in a welcome return to form and Williamson made 42. Pakistan made an early breakthrough when they dismissed Jeet Raval for two with the New Zealand score on 11, but they struggled to assert themselves despite the wicket continuing to show life.
– Side-on success –
Williamson and Latham fell in the middle session, and Henry Nicholls (26) and Colin de Grandhomme (32) went after the tea interval. New Zealand, having won the first Test, need only a draw to beat Pakistan for the first time in 13 Test series dating back to 1985.
Taylor and Latham had both struggled for runs through recent South Africa and India tours as well as the first Test against Pakistan.
Taylor showed no sign of his vision problems when he opened his account with a four off Imran Khan, setting the tone for an innings that contained 16 boundaries. He survived an lbw appeal on 16 in what was otherwise a chanceless knock.
Taylor said he had changed his technique to allow for his vision problems and it paid off. “I wanted to get a bit more side on. I didn’t go out there to play the cut shot any more than I have in the past. It’s just surprising how I was a little more side-on that shot came naturally.”
Latham lived on the edge. He survived a runout appeal and had a moment of apprehension when the big screen mistakenly put up the word “out”.
On 41 he was dropped by Sami Aslam. But his luck deserted him trying to fend off a Wahab Riaz bouncer and the ball looped off his gloves to Sarfraz Ahmed behind the stumps. The wicketkeeper also snapped up Williamson who feathered a good-length Imran delivery to break a 96-run stand with Latham. -AFP