Latham century anchors NZ to 243-3
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Opening batsman Tom Latham completed back to back test centuries as he anchored New Zealand’s total of 243-3 on the first day of the second test against Pakistan on Monday.
Latham, 22, scored a career-best unbeaten 137 to follow his maiden test hundred in the first test last week which Pakistan won by 248 runs.
Latham featured in three half century stands and stood firm against both spinners and the reverse swing of Rahat Ali, hitting 11 boundaries and a six in a masterful knock off 258 balls.
Corey Anderson remained unbeaten on seven when bad light stopped play, three overs before the scheduled close.
Latham’s only blemish came on 103 when Azhar Ali spilled a two-handed sitter at gully, just before Pakistan took the second new ball.
Pakistan took a wicket in each session after New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum won the toss and, without hesitation, chose to bat.
Latham showed patience throughout the day and was unruffled by the slow turns of either legspinner Yasir Shah (1-51) or left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar (1-92).
He entered the nineties with a straight six over Babar’s head before sweeping the left-armer for a four off the next delivery. He completed his century off 192 balls when he drove Ehsan Adil (1-47) through midwicket for two runs.
While Latham dominated Pakistan’s bowlers, both Kane Williamson (32) Ross Taylor (23) struggled despite sharing stands of 76 and 73 respectively with Latham.
Taylor had a lucky escape when he was dropped by Azhar Ali at silly point, on 11, before Shan Masood took a spectacular juggling catch at the same position to end his knock off 71 balls.
Williamson struck his only boundary after nearly 1-1/2 hours when he glanced a Rahat Ali delivery to fine leg before he played to the wrong line of Babar’s delivery, in the second session, and was bowled.
Latham punished the loose deliveries with authoritative drives and sweeps, raising his half century midway through the second session off 120 balls with five fours.
He survived a close call on 71, when Rahat Ali found the thick outside edge of the left-hander’s bat, but wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed did not go for a low catch to his left.
Earlier, New Zealand made a healthy 82 for the loss of McCullum’s wicket in the first session.
McCullum could have been lbw to Adil on 38, but Pakistan didn’t call for a review. The New Zealand captain pulled unnecessarily in the next over off the same fast bowler and was caught at deep midwicket. His 69-ball innings contained four boundaries and two sixes.
Pakistan made three changes from the lineup which took a 1-0 lead in the three-test series by winning the first test at Abu Dhabi last week.
The left-handed opener Taufeeq Umar and Shan Masood replaced injured Ahmed Shehzad and Mohammad Hafeez, while Adil was drafted in place of rested fast bowler Imran Khan.
Umar, 33, played the last of his 43 tests two years ago against Sri Lanka. Masood played two test matches against South Africa in the United Arab Emirates in 2013 before he was sidelined.
Shehzad was ruled of the series after fracturing his skull during a career-best 176 in the first test. Hafeez pulled his hamstring during his unbeaten 101 in the second innings at Abu Dhabi.
New Zealand retained the same playing XI despite the top order struggling against spinners and the reverse swing of fast bowlers in the first test.