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

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.


World’s richest horse race Saudi Cup to ‘open doors’ for tourists to Saudi Arabia

Updated 19 min 48 sec ago

World’s richest horse race Saudi Cup to ‘open doors’ for tourists to Saudi Arabia

  • Race billed as the richest on the planet with prize fund of $20 million
  • Visa procedures for the event were also confirmed on Monday

LONDON: Next year’s Saudi Cup horse race in Riyadh will help open up Saudi Arabia to visitors from around the world, Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia chairman Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al-Faisal said on Monday.

The race, billed as the richest on the planet with a prize fund of $20 million, will be run at the King Abdul Aziz racetrack in Riyadh on Feb. 29.

The race over a distance of nine furlongs (1,800 meters) on the dirt track will have a maximum field of 14 starters and will be free to enter and to participate in.

Prince Bandar told Arab News the race will allow visitors to the Kingdom an opportunity to enjoy everything the country has to offer.

“This event was initiated by the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, it has been two years in the making, and we were extremely encouraged by the position of the government,” he said.

“They have been very supportive in everything they can do to ensure it is a successful event, there is a definite political will to do so.”

Prince Bandar referred to an announcement earlier this month that Saudi Arabia would open its doors to tourists from around the world by the end of 2019.

“So that works for us very nicely,” he added.

Prince Bandar said while the prize money was obviously important in building the reputation of the event, it was not the sole reason for its hosting and that he hoped it would establish Saudi Arabia as a major racing nation on the global stage.

Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia's chairman Prince Bandar (C) with a host of UK trainers and jockey Frankie Dettori at the London launch of the Saudi Cup. (AN Photo/Daniel Fountain)

“It definitely falls in line with the kind of activities that are now opening up the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its people and culture to people from all over the world, so that they can come and experience the country first-hand and have the opportunity to see a part of the world that has not been visited as often as we would like.

“The introduction of the Saudi Cup as an international race is without doubt the most significant event in the history of horse racing in Saudi Arabia and it demonstrates our resolve to develop this great sport in the Kingdom and also our ambition to become a leading player on horse racing’s world stage,” he added.

During his address in central London Prince Bandar said: “We will be thrilled to welcome international competitors to these new races. I am especially pleased that we will be having turf racing in Riyadh for the first time, things are really beginning to take shape.”

The prince also said he was keen for women jockeys and trainers to get involved with the Saudi Cup, adding they would be “most welcome” to compete at the event, and that he hoped it would entice some of the world’s most promising female talent.

“Women have been very active in equestrianism as a whole in the Kingdom, it is quite normal in Saudi Arabia for them to compete at that level,” he said.

Also announced at the London launch were the meeting’s support races, which include a staying handicap race run over 3,000 meters, a middle-distance race over 2,100 meters, while the two races on the dirt track are over 1,200 meters and 1,600 meters.

Tom Ryan, Saudi Cup Race Director, said the races and the horses competing in them had been selected to offer the most competitive spectacle possible for the estimated 10,000-12,000 expected to be watching at the racetrack itself and global television audiences.

World-renowned jockey Frankie Dettori also spoke at the event and described his experiences of running horses on the King Abdul Aziz dirt track.

“I’ve been very fortunate to have been going there for a number of years, and the quality of the dirt track in Riyadh is second to none, probably the best I’ve ridden on. 

“I’ve ridden European horses on it, and they take to it really well, and the new turf track will give the day even more appeal. 

“I’m sure this is going to attract a lot of interest from around the world, I hope I’ll be there on the starting line come February 29.”

Visa procedures for the event were also confirmed on Monday, with the Saudi Cup following a similar system used by recent sporting events hosted in Saudi Arabia. Racegoers who buy a ticket for the Saudi Cup will automatically receive a visa to enter the Kingdom.

Prince Bandar said: “In Saudi Arabia, we’ve had experience with Formula E and other such events, whether it is in hospitality or entertainment and we have no problem with accommodation for those involved with the horses or who wish to attend the event.

“We will also be providing programs and packages for people who wish to tour Saudi Arabia, whether it is for the archaeology, for nature, or the seas, deserts or mountains — we have everything accounted for.”