Top order batsman Azhar Ali scored a gritty half-century, taking Pakistan to 139-3 at the close of play on the second day of the third and final Test against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. After dismissing New Zealand for 274 in the first innings, Pakistan suffered a horrible start, losing two wickets for 17 runs. Both openers Mohammad Hafeez (0)and Imam-ul-Haq (9) departed in quick succession, putting Pakistan in a spot of bother. Pacer Trent Boult wreaked havoc at the start but Azhar's composed knock steadied the Pakistan innings. The right-hander was unbeaten on 62 at stumps having shared a dogged, unbroken fourth-wicket partnership of 54 with Asad Shafiq.
Pakistan are still 135 runs adrift of New Zealand's first innings total in which BJ Watling made a gutsy and vital 77 not out.
The three-match series is tied at 1-1 after New Zealand won the first Test in Abu Dhabi by four runs before Pakistan bounced back with an innings and 16-run win in the second in Dubai.
Azhar remains key for Pakistan if they are to build any kind of first innings lead.
The 33-year-old dropped anchor and found the boundary just four times as he crawled through to his 32nd Test half century. His 62 not out was carved painstakingly from 169 deliveries as the Pakistan scoring rate struggled to rise above two an over.
The equally-experienced Shafiq hit the same number of fours in his 26 which has so far occupied 85 balls.
(With AFP Inputs)