New Zealand ahead after rainy third day against Pakistan

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Babar Azam made an unbeaten 90 while Tim Southee took six wickets as the hosts took a lead of 55 runs after the first innings.New Zealand led Pakistan by 55 runs with 10 second innings wickets in hand after heavy rain disrupted and eventually forced an early end to the third day of the second Test on Sunday. Pakistan batsman Babar Azam made an unbeaten 90, his highest Test score in the three matches he has played to date, while New Zealand paceman Tim Southee took six wickets for 80, his third-best return in Tests, as the tourists were dismissed for 216 in reply to New Zealand’s first innings of 271. New Zealand faced just one delivery in its second innings, without scoring a run, when the rain returned and the umpires abandoned play for the day after two previous disruptions. Only 38.1 overs were bowled in total and only six balls were completed in the second session of a day highlighted by Babar’s patient innings and Pakistan’s fightback. Babar anchored the Pakistan innings after batting for more than four and a half hours and surpassing his previous Test best of 69. He provided stability which allowed the big hitters in Pakistan’s lower order to turn some pressure back on the New Zealand bowlers.Wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed, who had joined Babar with the team in trouble at 51-5 before stumps on Saturday, hit 41 from 44 balls in a sixth wicket partnership of 74 in 84 minutes. Fast bowler Sohail Khan then made 37 from 47 balls, with four fours and two sixes, to add a further 67 runs in 66 minutes for the seventh wicket. Babar was unfortunate to be left stranded short of a maiden century after batting for all but 20 minutes of the Pakistan innings but he finally ran out of partners in the 67th over. Southee, who had taken three wickets in the final session Saturday to reduce Pakistan to 51-5, dismissed Sohail, then captured the last two wickets to fall for his first five wicket haul on home soil since his Test debut in 2008 as Pakistan lost their four wickets for 24 runs to hand the momentum back to New Zealand. Resuming on 76-5, Pakistan opted to attack with Sarfraz the first to go after the New Zealand bowlers, helping Pakistan plunder 32 runs from Southee’s first three overs. When he was out to Neil Wagner (3-59) in the 42nd over, Sohail took up the mantle and hit Wagner for two successive sixes in an early sign of his intentions before Southee got him. Players were forced from the field for the first time eight minutes before lunch and only six balls were bowled in a second session because of the showers. Play resumed 15 minutes late after the tea break and a small milestone was passed when No. 11 Imran Khan squirted a ball through third man for two, his first runs in his eight Tests to date. Rain returned late in the afternoon, defeating the groundstaff’s effort to restore Seddon Park to a condition fit for play.

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