Hafeez century spurs Pakistan to 281-3 in 3rd test
SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Opening batsman Mohammad Hafeez carried his bat through the first day in smashing an unbeaten 178 and spurring Pakistan to 281-3 against New Zealand in the third and decisive test on Wednesday.
Hafeez, recovered from a niggly hamstring which sidelined him from the drawn second test, cracked 23 fours and three sixes to overshadow Daniel Vettori’s surprise comeback to test cricket after more than two years.
Captain Misbah-ul-Haq, dropped on 20 by wicketkeeper BJ Watling off Ish Sodhi’s sharp legspin, was not out on 38 after he won the toss and elected to bat on a subcontinent-like flat pitch.
Offspinner Mark Craig took 2-67, while Younis Khan was unexpectedly out for 5, trapped lbw by Vettori.
Hafeez also showed no sign of fatigue after flying to England to have his suspect bowling action tested on Monday as he put on 121 runs with Misbah, and denied New Zealand success in the last session.
Hafeez, strong on both sides of the wicket, began with a drive through point off Trent Boult’s first ball of the match and dominated the bowlers in his unblemished second straight century.
Craig gave New Zealand the breakthrough in his first over when he clean-bowled Shan Masood (12) at 44-1.
Hafeez added another 86 runs for the second wicket before Azhar Ali (39) needlessly poked at Craig’s delivery and edged it to Ross Taylor in the slips at 131-2.
Hafeez, who scored 96 and an unbeaten 101 in Pakistan’s 248-run victory in the first test, raised his seventh test hundred off 130 balls, when he pulled and cut Craig for two consecutive boundaries then turned the offspinner to square leg for a single.
He completed his 150 off 202 deliveries with two more consecutive pulled fours off Sodhi in the last session, as New Zealand tried out 10 overs with the second new ball but couldn’t earn further success.
New Zealand recalled Vettori in place of allrounder James Neesham. Vettori was in the last test in which New Zealand played three specialist spinners, in 1998 in Sri Lanka.
Vettori, whose last test was in July 2012, became the sole holder of New Zealand’s most test caps in his 112th match, leaving behind former captain Stephen Fleming.
In his fourth over, the 35-year-old Vettori claimed Khan, who went for an unsuccessful television referral at 160-3.
But in Vettori 12 overs for the day, he couldn’t unruffled the determined Hafeez.
Hafeez returned to replace Taufeeq Umar, and fast bowler Ehsan Adil, ruled out due to a side strain, made way for Mohammad Talha. Misbah said Hafeez would continue to bowl, as the result of the examination of his action was yet to come.