NZ 98-0, leads Pakistan by 290 at lunch day 4, 1st test

New Zealand led Pakistan by 290 runs with all 10 second innings wickets in hand at lunch Tuesday on the fourth day of the first cricket test.

Opener Tom Blundell reached a half century from 87 balls just before lunch and was 59 not out at the break. Tom Latham was 36 and New Zealand was 98 without loss, having made an assertive start to a crucial day.

New Zealand began its second innings Tuesday with a 192-run lead after dismissing Pakistan for 239 in reply to its first innings of 431. Innings of 71 by captain Mohammad Rizwan and 91 by allrounder Faheem Ashraf allowed Pakistan to narrowly avoid the follow-on the third day.

Captain Kane Williamson now faces a difficult balancing act in deciding when to declare as New Zealand chases its third consecutive win in home tests this summer after back-to-back innings victories over the West Indies.

Williamson likely will want a lead of around 450 and long enough to allow his bowlers to dismiss Pakistan again. Ideally, New Zealand would prefer to be bowling before the close of play Tuesday with at least 100 overs at its disposal.

From that point of view, Williamson would have been pleased with the morning’s work.

Latham and Blundell scored at more than 3.2 runs per over during the first session to advance the game and give New Zealand a tighter grip on the outcome.

Blundell, who was more aggressive, had hit seven boundaries by lunch.

New Zealand will go all out to win the match because it must do so to retain any chance of joining Australia in the final of the World Test Championship at Lord’s next year. The 2-0 clean sweep over the West Indies lifted New Zealand into third place on the world championship standings.

A further 2-0 win over Pakistan could take New Zealand into second place, depending on the outcome of the current series between Australia and India.


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