KARACHI: New Zealand’s Kane Williamson, freed from the burden of captaining the red ball, hit a sleek 200 to put his side in command of the opening Test against Pakistan on Thursday.
Williamson gave up the Test captaincy earlier this month but proved he remained the mainstay of the New Zealand strike as he guided them to a mammoth 612/9 before skipper Tim Southee declared with a advance of 174.
Pakistan finished Matchday 4 77/2, still 97 behind and needing to battle to prevent New Zealand from taking a 1-0 lead in the two-Test series.
Opener Imam-ul-Haq was hitting 45 at the stumps with a night watchman Nauman Ali out of four at the other end.
Pakistani bowlers had to break their backs for the occasional success on a flat lane at the National Stadium and more work awaited them after New Zealand’s 440/6 recovery.
Williamson and Ish Night Drummers Sodhiwho scored a career-best 65, combined in a seven-wicket partnership of 159 to frustrate the hosts.
Abrar Ahmed (5-205) finally broke the stand when he pulled Sodhi to trigger a lower-order meltdown, but Williamson couldn’t be denied his milestone.
With number 11 Ajaj Patel on the other end, Williamson hit Abrar for a six inches closer to the double cent and, four overs later, reached the cap with a single on the spinner.
Williamson, who hit 21 fours in his patient 395-ball stroke, removed his helmet and raised his bat in typically low-key celebration and New Zealand declared immediately.
Pakistan’s offense looked exhausted from having to go almost 195 overs on an unresponsive track.
Spinners Abrar and Nauman (3-185) worked hard together for nearly 131 overs and the bowlers’ task was made more difficult by the team’s general slackness.
The hosts dropped three takes, missed a few stumps and twice opted against criticism which would have resulted in wickets.
Pakistan also couldn’t escape the final session unscathed when they went off at bat for the second time in the game.
Abdullah Shafique came out against Michael Bracewell to put him in the middle of the outfielder and Shan Massoud was trapped lbw by sodhi.



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