New Zealand face uphill battle after Azhar, Shafiq hit hundreds

Mohammad Hafeez- File

New Zealand's spinners curtailed Pakistan's lead to 74 runs despite Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq scoring centuries on Wednesday on the third day of the series-deciding third and final test. In response to New Zealand's 274, Pakistan scored 139 for the loss of three wickets at the end of the second day.

Skipper Kane Williamson (14 not out) as usual holds the majority of New Zealand's fortunes in his hands when they resume on day four at 7pm NZT. As the day progresses and the ball gets old, Ajaj Patel would also chip in and the spinner will be backed by Colin de Grandhomme and William Somerville.

Realistically, NZ are still up against it, as legspinner Yasir Shah seeks to become the quickest bowler to take 200 test wickets with one more scalp.

The series is tied at 1-1.

Pakistan's advantage came courtesy of the two century-makers, taking them past NZ's first innings total before being separated.

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Pakistani batsmen Azhar Ali (L) and Asad Shafiq touch their bats during the third day of the third and final Test cricket match between Pakistan and New Zealand at the Sheikh Zayed International Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on December 5, 2018.

New Zealand pace bowler Trent Boult had removed the out-of-form Mohammad Hafeez and Imam-ul-Haq with only 17 runs on the board, having both openers caught by Tim Southee in the slips.

New Zealand couldn't get the breakthrough even after bowling 10 overs with the second new ball before lunch.

Shafiq completed his century with a single off Somerville but fell leg before wicket off Patel in the next over.

Somerville then had Azam and Hasan Ali (nought) bowled and wrapped up the innings by getting Sarfraz caught at mid-wicket. Pakistan has not had an entirely good time when it comes down running between the wickets.

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