New Zealand pair frustrate Pakistan and Yasir Shah in Abu Dhabi

The New Zealand skipper batted well for his 89 in the UAE capital. (AFP)
Updated 03 December 2018
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New Zealand pair frustrate Pakistan and Yasir Shah in Abu Dhabi

  • Black Caps dig in after loss of early wickets in winner-takes-all clash.
  • Yasir Shah needs just two more wickets to become quickest man to 200 Test scalps.

ABU DHABI: New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson hit a fighting half century while BJ Watling batted with patience to delay leg-spinner Yasir Shah’s bid to become the fastest to 200 wickets on the first day of the third and final Test in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
Williamson missed out on a 19th Test century but Watling was unbeaten on 42 as New Zealand closed on 229 for seven, a measured recovery after being reduced to 72 for four by a triple strike from Yasir in the first session.
Yasir began his 33rd Test needing five wickets to become the fastest man to reach the milestone of 200 Test wickets. The record is currently 36 Tests, set 82 years ago by Australian legspinner Clarrie Grimmett.
Yasir ended the day with three for 62 but was then thwarted by the fifth wicket stand of 104 in 249 balls between Williamson and Watling.
He failed to take any more wickets in the last two sessions and still needs another two wickets to hit the 200-mark and claim the record.
Williamson struck seven boundaries but these were the bright points in a day when defense came first.
The normally robust and aggressive Kiwi captain curbed his attacking instinct as he attmpted to carve out a first innings that might give his side some leverage in the match. The scoring rarely got above two an over.
Watling also dug in and the pair batted right through the middle session.
Williamson passed 50 in a Test for the 46th time but he was not able to convert his innings into another hundred. Having reached 89 off 176 balls, he mistimed a clip off Hasan Ali shortly after tea and found a gleeful Asad Shafiq oouching the catch at short midwicket.
Off-spinner Bilal Asif took over from Yasir, claiming Colin de Grandhomme for 20 and Tim Southee for two to finish with two for 57.
But Watling kept one end intact through his patient near-four hour batting, hitting only one boundary in his 180-ball display of self-denial.
With both teams needing a win to seal a series which is currently tied at 1-1, Yasir was the key and the leg-spinner induced a mini-collapse in the morning as the Kiwis slipped from 70 for one to 73 for four at lunch.
Yasir trapped opener Jeet Raval leg before with a faster one for 45. Raval reviewed but ball-tracking showed it would have hit leg stump.
With his next ball, Yasir clean-bowled Ross Taylor as the batsman went back but completely missed the ball.
Henry Nicholls saved the hat-trick but shortly after he attempted to sweep and Yasir flicking the ball as it went through to bowl him around his legs.
Yasir, whose 14 wickets helped Pakistan level the series in Dubai, has 25 wickets in the series so far.
It was teenage left-arm paceman Shaheen Shah Afridi, making his Test debut as a replacement for injured medium pacer Mohammad Abbas, who gave Pakistan their initial breakthrough and claim his first Test victim.
The 18-year-old nipped one back sharply to rap opener Tom Latham on the pads. Pakistan reviewed the on-field not out decision and were rewarded when ball-tracking showed the ball would have cannoned into the stumps.
New Zealand, who won the first Test by four runs in Abu Dhabi, brought in fast bowler Tim Southee and off-spinner Will Somerville in place of Neil Wagner and Ish Sodhi.


Lewis Hamilton tells rivals ‘catch me if you can’

Updated 20 February 2019
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Lewis Hamilton tells rivals ‘catch me if you can’

  • Five-time world champion feeling confident of a sixth crown ahead of new season.
  • Pre-season testing going well in Barcelona.

BARCELONA: Lewis Hamilton has warned his rivals they had better get ready to catch his dust as he is feeling “better than ever” ahead of the season.
The 34-year-old Briton enjoyed a near flawless run to secure his fifth drivers’ title last year. He won 11 of the 21 races to beat Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel with two races to spare, and he expects the Italian marque to once again keep him on his toes.
“Ferrari are very strong,” Hamilton said in Barcelona on the third day of pre-season testing.
“It appears they have a better package than last year, which means it will be a bigger challenge for us.
“In the last few years, Ferrari has looked good from the very beginning so that’s to be expected.”
But he said it would be a mistake to draw any hard and fast conclusions from the evidence thrown up by testing.
“We’ll have a better idea I guess this time next week where we stand but still then we won’t know what fuel loads everybody is on and who is showing their cars and who isn’t.”
Hamilton, with a new two-year deal that will earn him £40 million ($52 million) a season, is buzzing after the winter recess.
“I feel in the best shape that I’ve been in,” he assured his fans, as he embarks on his quest for a sixth championship and record sixth consecutive constructors’ crown for Mercedes.
On a sixth title he shrugged: “I am not even focusing on that. It’s a new season, a new year, a new chapter and we have to approach like it’s our first.
“We’re going for number one, that’s how I approach it.
“But it’s not something that I allow my peers to talk about. It’s not what we are here for to focus on that number.”
He dismissed out of hand any notion of complacency setting in at his all-conquering team.
“We are always driven to do something new and to break boundaries and do stuff that no one else has done before but we are fully aware of the work that it will take to deliver something like that and it’s by no means like ‘yeah we are going for the sixth’ like it’s a relaxed thing.
“It’s not like that.”
Hamilton’s bid for title number six begins at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 17.