Kane Williamson and Henry Nicholls put New Zealand in a strong position over Pakistan in winner-takes-all Test

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson, left, and teammate Henry Nicholls put on a batting masterclass in Abu Dhabi. (AFP)
Updated 06 December 2018
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Kane Williamson and Henry Nicholls put New Zealand in a strong position over Pakistan in winner-takes-all Test

  • Williamson batted the entire day and grafted an unbeaten 139 off 282 balls with 13 fours
  • Yasir Shah became the quickest bowler to reach 200 Test wickets in his 33rd test

ABU DHABI: Captain Kane Williamson and Henry Nicholls combined in a terrific double-century stand to propel New Zealand’s lead against Pakistan to a valuable 198 runs in the third Test on Thursday.
Williamson, who resumed on the fourth day on 14, batted the entire day and grafted an unbeaten 139 off 282 balls with 13 fours.
Left-hander Nicholls overcame a jittery start to be 90 not out off 243 deliveries as New Zealand overcame being 60 for four in the morning to reach 272 for four at stumps and regain the advantage. Pakistan let it slip away through lapses in the field and taking a defensive approach.
New Zealand was still trailing Pakistan in its second innings by 14 runs when Nicholls joined Williamson before lunch. But they batted with determination and luck in an unbroken 212-run, fifth-wicket stand to leave Pakistan worried about what total it may be chasing to win the series on the last day Friday.
New Zealand will be in charge and favored for the series win when it will probably decide to end its second innings and leave enough time to bowl out Pakistan.
Pakistan does not have happy memories at Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Stadium, where New Zealand won the first test by just four runs after setting Pakistan a target of 176.
Pakistan made a perfect start to the fourth day when legspinner Yasir Shah became the quickest bowler to reach 200 test wickets in his 33rd test by dismissing nightwatchman Will Somerville for four.
But Shah dropped Williamson on 80 and 106.
And Imam-ul-Haq couldn’t hold onto a sharp reflex catch of Nicholls close to the wicket on the leg side soon after the left-hander completed his half-century before tea.
Shah could have dismissed Nicholls on three, but Pakistan didn’t go for the leg before wicket referral. Video replays showed the ball would have crashed onto the leg stump.
Nicholls survived another chance on nine when he successfully overturned an lbw decision against him off Shah’s sharp turning delivery from round the wicket.
New Zealand resumed on 26 for two and Shah got Somerville to reach 200 wickets and break the 82-year-old record of Australia legspinner Clarrie Grimmett, who got his 200th wicket in his 36th test in 1936 against South Africa at Johannesburg.
Ross Taylor’s overly aggressive approach ultimately led to his downfall on 22 off 14 balls when he was caught in the deep as New Zealand slumped to 60 for four.
Taylor smashed three boundaries in Shaheen Afridi’s one over and was undone by Afridi’s pace in the next over and holed out at deep mid-wicket.
Williamson and Nicholls then dug in well on a slow pitch and gradually increased the lead as Pakistan fielders let chances slip away.
Williamson completed his 19th Test century off 154 balls with a crisp cover driven boundary off Hasan Ali just before tea. By stumps he’d endured 100 overs.
He and Nicholls, closing on his third test century, scored 87 in the second session and 73 in the last session. Pakistan had a chance to take the new ball over the last 24 overs but declined, setting defensive fields to keep down New Zealand’s run rate.
The run rate came down, but Williamson and Nicholls still took the game away from a tired Pakistan attack.


Bert Van Marwijk only has one thing on his mind: getting the UAE to the 2022 World Cup

Updated 21 March 2019
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Bert Van Marwijk only has one thing on his mind: getting the UAE to the 2022 World Cup

  • Former Saudi Arabia coach wants to guide the Whites to their first World Cup since 1990.
  • "If I didn’t see the potential, I wouldn’t sit here," Dutchman says of his new job.

LONDON: Bert van Marwijk has told the UAE he only has one thing on his mind: Getting the side to the 2022 World Cup. 

The former Saudi Arabia boss was unveiled as the new coach of the Whites before watching his new team beat his former team 2-1 in a friendly in Dubai (see right). While he was in the stand rather than the dugout — interim boss Saleem Abdelrahman took charge — he would have liked what he saw as he set himself the challenge of leading the UAE to their first showpiece since 1990. 

“I’m here for only one thing, and that’s to qualify for the World Cup,” the Dutchman said.  

“It takes a long time and the first thing we have to deal with is the first qualification round. That’s why I’m here.”

Van Marwijk was celebrated after he led the Green Falcons to last year's World Cup before calling it quits. (AFP) 

Van Marwijk guided Saudi Arabia to last year’s World Cup — the Green Falcons’ first appearance at the showpiece for 12 years — during a two-year stint which ended in September 2017.

That was one of the key reasons the UAE fought hard for the 66-year-old and while it is never easy getting through Asian qualifying — 46 teams going for just four direct slots at Qatar 2022 — the Dutchman claimed his experience, combined with his knowledge of the UAE, will stand him in good stead. 

“The Saudis and the UAE are about the same level. With the Saudis we qualified for Russia, so we will do really everything to go to Qatar in 2022,” Van Marwijk said. 

While he is fondly remembered in the Kingdom — only a contractual dispute regarding backroom staff meant he did not stay on as Green Falcons coach for the Russia tournament — it is his time as the Netherlands coach that really stands out on his managerial resume. Van Marwijk coached the Oranje to within minutes of the World Cup trophy, with only an Andres Iniesta extra-time winner preventing him from tasting ultimate glory against Spain in 2010. 

So why did he return to the Gulf for another crack at World Cup qualification in a tough, crowded race? 

“One of the reasons is the feeling. I have to have the right feeling when I sign a contract,” Van Marwijk said. “We analyzed the UAE, we played four times against each other with Saudi, so I can see the potential.

“I have had the experience to go to the World Cup twice. The first time we were second in the world, the second time was with Australia (which he coached last summer) and we were a little bit unlucky — we played very well. 

“So to go to the World Cup for the third time is the goal.”

Van Marwijk is all too aware his task will be difficult. The “Golden Generation” of Emirati footballers, spearheaded by Omar Abdulrahman, tried and failed to make it to football’s biggest tournament, and a lot of the next three years’ work will likely depend on a new generation.

“I heard there were some young talents, so I’m anxious to know how good they are,” the Dutchman said. “I know the team has a few very good players — the UAE has a few weapons. 

“That’s the most important thing. If I didn’t see the potential, I wouldn’t sit here.”