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PAK v NZ: Latham, Williamson hit centuries, put New Zealand in lead against Pakistan

Left-handed opener Tom Latham smashed his 13th Test century while talismanic batter Kane Williamson registered his 25th hundred in the format as New Zealand were put in the lead against Pakistan on day three of the first Test at the National Bank Cricket Arena on Wednesday.

Resuming from overnight score of 165 for no loss in reply to Pakistan’s 438 in the first innings, New Zealand ended the day at 440 for six, leading by two runs with four wickets still in hand, leaving the match in a tantalising position with two days left in the game.

Latham had started this morning at 78 and became one of the three Abrar Ahmed’s victims after scoring 113, while Williamson was unbeaten on 105 – his first international century in 23 months and fifth against Pakistan in 14 Test appearances, and was accompanied by Ish Sodhi on one not out at stumps.

Devon Conway, who began this morning with Latham at 82, missed his fourth century by eight runs after television replays confirmed Noman Ali’s delivery would have hit the stumps after the umpire had turned down a confident lbw appeal. Conway’s 92 came off 176 balls and included 14 fours.

Conway and Latham put on 183 runs for the first wicket, which was New Zealand’s new first wicket partnership record against Pakistan. Latham struck 10 fours in his 191-ball innings, also his third century against Pakistan in his 12th Test against them, second of the year in nine Tests and first since he scored a mammoth 252 against Bangladesh in Christchurch in January.

Williamson, who stepped down as Test captain before the tour, overturned an lbw decision against Abrar Ahmed and then punished Pakistan for twice letting him off when on 15 and 21 when Sarfaraz Ahmed missed stumping chances.

His pristine knock was layered with signature strokes to all parts of the field, and was great with his footwork too. His 105 has come from 222 balls and includes 11 fours. Williamson’s first 50 runs came off 100 balls, while his next 50 runs came off 106 deliveries.

Williamson added 48 runs for the second wicket with Latham, followed by putting 41 runs for the third wicket with Henry Nicholls (22), 65 runs for the fourth wicket with Daryl Mitchell (42 off 47 balls) and 90 runs for the fifth wicket with Tom Blundell (47 off 116 balls).

New Zealand were strongly placed at 427 for four before Pakistan picked up two late wickets in the last 30 minutes to share day three’s spoils. Mohammad Wasim Jr. trapped Blundell lbw in front of the wickets, while Michael Bracewell (5) was forced into a false shot by Abrar, who had earlier claimed the scalp of Mitchell. Abrar finished day three with figures of three for 143, while Ali ended with two for 137.

Brief Scores: New Zealand 440 for 6 in 136 overs (Tom Latham 113, Kane Williamson 105 not out, Abrar Ahmed 3/143, Noman Ali 2/137) lead Pakistan 438 in 130.5 overs by two runs

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