Pakistan Set Target Of 369 In Hamilton

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Ross Taylor says the decision to play in Hamilton could have gone either way, but he put all that aside to be the hero for New Zealand on day four.

Pakistan are now in real danger of losing their first Test series to New Zealand in over 30 years after Ross Taylor scored his 16th Test century on day four.

The No.2-ranked Test side in the world were set a target of 369 to win.

With his second crack at Seddon Park, Taylor put Pakistan’s bowlers to the sword. His best Test score for some time, 102, also marked the first time he’d gone past fifty in 11 Test innings. And yet, it could have all turned out so differently for Taylor, and Pakistan for that matter.

Wahab Riaz was denied Taylor’s wicket earlier in the day when he was ruled to have bowled a no ball.

The veteran put the game almost completely out of Pakistan’s reach, helping to push New Zealand’s lead to 368 before the declaration came.

Perhaps it was fitting that Taylor brought up his century using his trademark cut shot. Four days ago, Taylor wasn’t even sure if he would play in this game due to issues with his sight. After his specialist told him he’s require surgery, Taylor opted to play in this Test and forgo the upcoming tour to Australia.

All the batsman in New Zealand helped the cause during what was a slow but steady day of cricket in Hamilton.

Colin de Grandhomme had license to swing the bat late in the day. With New Zealand’s lead over 300, the all-rounder played his part with a bright and breezy, quickfire score of 32 before holding out in the field to Azhar Ali.

There was a lot of discussion throughout the afternoon of just when New Zealand would declare. The lead was increasing, and with a day of cricket remaining, some speculated that New Zealand may in fact have batted through until stumps.

Tom Latham had got the ball rolling for New Zealand earlier on. Latham, 24, scored a duck in the first innings, but showed maturity at the crease with his second attempt. The left handed opener notched his sixth Test match half-century on a pitch that was aiding the batsmen, but Pakistan hadn’t help themselves from the outset.

Deciding to play four seamers in Hamilton, Pakistan found themselves unable to rely on a specialist spinner to see if the pitch would turn on day four. With the sun shining, conditions for batting improved by the over.

Ali and Asad Shafiq had a go at rolling the arm over, but that came late in the day after their seamers tired from a day of bowling, often for little reward.

The over rate was also terribly slow, with just 12 overs being bowled per hour.

Latham and Kane Williamson put on a strong 86-run partnership to give New Zealand a lead of 152-runs at lunch.

Latham was dismissed prior to the Tea break for 80, but his innings had firmly steered New Zealand into a very strong position with dangerous batsmen still to come.

Latham, son of famous New Zealand opener Rod Latham, has performed well for New Zealand overseas but has yet to really impress on home soil. His solid knock of 80 in Hamilton today will give him the confidence that he can be a good opening batsman in the seaming conditions that New Zealand pitches present.

Pakistan managed to get a single run to their name in three overs of batting before play was called for the day.