A hard-charging Trent Boult and recent history at Sheikh Zayed Stadium are New Zealand’s main hopes after a seesawing third cricket test tilted back Pakistan’s way.

With three days to play in the decider in Abu Dhabi, both sides are in with a sniff, with Pakistan ending 139-3 in reply to the Black Caps’ first innings of 274.

Azhar Ali, Pakistan’s sixth-highest runscorer at an average of 45, tightened his side’s grip once again with an unbeaten 62 in the lengthening shadows.

Boult’s double strike to remove both openers had Pakistan 17-2, but the day two pitch still favored batting and there wasn’t quite enough fizz or punch from the visiting attack to bust the test open.

They’ll hope history repeats, with just one of the 12 Pakistan tests in Abu Dhabi being won by the side batting last. A week or so back, the Black Caps won the first test at the very same ground after batting first and posting just 153.

But they’ll hope for some tricks from the pitch and main striker Boult to emerge firing again on day three. Batting will become tougher, no doubt, but if Pakistan can sneak any kind of lead, New Zealand’s second innings will be under immense pressure from a bowling attack which looks better equipped to exploit the conditions.

Still, the men in black scrapped hard throughout and their belief will remain intact as they chase a first away series win against Pakistan in 49 years.


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