Williamson’s 112 helps New Zealand cut Pakistan’s lead

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NZ vs PAK, 2nd Test, Day 2 |

CHRISTCHURCH: Kane Williamson posted his third century in consecutive matches this summer and shared an unbroken 215-run partnership with Henry Nicholls which steered New Zealand close to a first-innings lead over Pakistan on the second day of the second cricket Test.

Williamson followed his innings of 251 in the first Test against the West Indies and 129 in the first Test against Pakistan with an unbeaten 112 on Monday as New Zealand reached 286-3 by stumps in reply to Pakistan’s 297.

Nicholls ended the day 89 not out, following his 174 in the second Test against the West Indies and his 56 in the first Test against Pakistan.

Williamson’s century was his 24th in Tests and again came at a crucial time for New Zealand as it played under the pressure of Pakistan’s impressive first innings total, achieved as it batted first after losing the toss.

New Zealand lost three wickets on either side of lunch — Tom Latham (33) and Tom Blundell (16) after a 52-run opening partnership and Ross Taylor (12) early in the second session when it was in trouble at 71-3.

Williamson and Nicholls batted slowly, cautiously through the middle session to re-establish the innings, adding only 79 runs and grafting the first 50 runs of their partnership from 105 balls.

The New Zealand run rate dropped to around 2.6 during the session as Pakistan’s bowlers kept up an accurate attack.

But Williamson accelerated as tea approached, taking a series of boundaries close to the interval and keeping up the tempo into the evening session as the aging ball made the Pakistan attack less threatening.

He went from 78 to 94 with four boundaries from the 60th over bowled by Naseem Shah; moved on to 95 with a single, to 99 with a pulled four from Faheem Ashraf and then to his century with a further boundary from Faheem.

Williamson’s half century had taken almost three hours and 105 deliveries; he went on to his century in 239 minutes from 140 balls, adding the second 50 from 35 deliveries in an hour.

Pakistan was helpless as Williamson and New Zealand’s total mounted and as they watched their first-innings total almost eclipsed.

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