Set 373 by NZ, Pakistan 71-3 at stumps on day 4, 1st test

Tim Southee claimed his 300th test wicket as New Zealand edged closer to a win over Pakistan Tuesday on the fourth day of the first cricket test.

New Zealand set Pakistan 373 to win after leading by 192 on the first innings and declaring its second innings at 180-5, shortly before tea.

At stumps Pakistan was 71-3, still 202 runs behind, with Azhar Ali 34 not out and Fawad Alam 21. The unbroken 34-run partnership between Azhar and Fawad which occupied 89 minutes before stumps helped the tourists recover from a dreadful start which saw them two wickets down without a run on the board.

Southee took the first Pakistan wicket to fall Tuesday and finished the day with 2-15 from nine overs.

Southee became the third Kiwi after Richard Hadlee (431) and Daniel Vettori (361), the 34th bowler from all nations and only the fourth active player to achieve the 300 wicket milestone. His wickets have come in 76 tests at an average of 28.48 and a strike rate of 56.8.

Those statistics compare favorably with the England pair James Anderson and Stuart Broad who have 600 and 514 wickets respectively but have played twice as many tests as Southee. Anderson averages 26.7, Broad 27.6 and both have strike rates around 56.

Southee’s regular new ball partner, Trent Boult, is also closing on the 300 wicket mark. He currently has 275 wickets at an average of 28.

“It’s obviously a pretty cool moment (to reach 300 wickets),” Southee said. “You’re out there with your mates and some of them have obviously been there for a long time as well.

“I’ve enjoyed some great moments with these guys along the way and it’s just a great feeling to be out there with a great bunch of guys and a good crowd here on day four at a beautiful cricket ground.”

At 32, Southee still has many more wickets to come.

“I like test cricket and I want to play it as long as I can,” he said. “I don’t like to put a number on it but you look at the likes of James Anderson, still doing a hell of a job at the age of 38.

“You’re a long time retired so as long as you can keep performing at the levels that a required I don’t see a reason to put a number on it.”

New Zealand began its second innings at the start of play Tuesday after bowling out Pakistan for 239 in reply to its first innings of 431 late on the third day.

Openers Tom Blundell and Tom Latham posted half centuries in a 111-run first wicket partnership which set New Zealand on course for the declaration. Blundell made 64, Latham 53 and the pair scored at more than three runs per over which allowed captain Kane Williamson to declare before tea, with about 136 overs remaining in the match.

Williamson made 21, Henry Nicholls 11, B.J. Watling 5, Ross Taylor 12 not out and Mitchell Santner 6 in brisk innings which allowed New Zealand to make an aggressive declaration.

The decision to pull out with five overs before lunch was vindicated when Boult and Southee each claimed a wicket before the break.

Boult had Abid Ali caught by wicketkeeper B.J. Watling from the second ball of his first over. It was Watling’s 250th test catch. Southee removed Shan Masood in the next over caught by Ross Taylor at slip and leaving Pakistan 2-0.

Southee’s 300th wicket came when Haris Sohail was caught by Mitchell Santner at short extra cover after batting 69 minutes for 9 runs. Azhar and Fawad held out for the rest of the day.

Southee and Boult return Wednesday with the chance of finishing the job and giving New Zealand its third-straight test win of the summer after its back-to-back innings victories over the West Indies. Neil Wagner continues to bowl despite suffering two broken toes while batting on the second day.

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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