Resolute Watling props up New Zealand

HAMILTON, New Zealand: A resolute BJ Watling kept New Zealand’s first innings alive Saturday as Pakistan continued to pick off wickets on day two of the second Test in Hamilton.

At tea, New Zealand were 266-8 with Watling on 45 after three hours in the middle and facing 119 deliveries. Matt Henry was not out 15 off 10 balls. Watling went to the crease with New Zealand in trouble at 119-5, having lost three for 29 runs in the morning session.

The wicketkeeper with six centuries to his name patiently protected his end in partnerships of 51 with Colin de Grandhomme, 33 with Mitchell Santner and 36 with Tim Southee. De Grandhomme, after working hard with Watling to get the New Zealand innings off shaky ground and through to 170-5 at lunch, was gone on the first ball after the resumption for 37.

He waved his bat at an Imran delivery sailing well wide of the stumps and sent an edge to Sarfraz Ahmed to give the keeper his fourth catch of the innings.

Santner chipped away for 16, including three boundaries before he nicked Sohail Khan to Younis Khan taking his turn at first slip. Swashbuckling Southee swung at everything, with five boundaries in his 29 off 28 deliveries before he was beaten and bowled by a slower Sohail delivery.

After only 21 overs were possible on the first day because of rain, there were no disruptions after New Zealand resumed day two at 77-2. Ross Taylor had added eight to his overnight score when he was caught flat-footed by a Sohail delivery that jagged in, catching an edge to give Ahmed a regulation catch.

Jeet Raval, dropped on four and 40 by Sami Aslam at first slip, progressed to 55 when he nicked Imran Khan to Mohammad Rizwan who had taken up the position beside the wicketkeeper.  Henry Nicholls (13) edged Wahab Riaz to Ahmed to have New Zealand at 119-5, and bringing in Watling to restore substance to the innings.

For Pakistan, Sohail has four for 99 and Imran two for 48. New Zealand, having won the first Test, need only a draw in Hamilton to claim their first series win over Pakistan in 31 years. -AFP