Taylor century sets Pakistan 369 target

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Hamilton—Ross Taylor ended a poor run of form to score his 16th Test century and bat New Zealand into a potentially series-winning position at the end of the fourth day of the second Test against Pakistan at Seddon Park in Hamilton on Monday.
Already 1-0 up in the two-match series courtesy of an eight-wicket win in Christchurch, New Zealand declared their second innings at 313 for five, just after Taylor reached the milestone, and set Pakistan a victory target of 369.
Azhar Ali and Sami Aslam safely batted out the three overs they needed before play ended to take their side to one for no wicket.
They will face a minimum of 98 overs on Tuesday.
Taylor finished on 102 not out, with BJ Watling on 15. Taylor is now one century behind the New Zealand record of 17, held by Martin Crowe. Opener Tom Latham had earlier scored 80 to anchor the New Zealand innings.
Taylor, who had not passed 50 in 11 innings since scoring 67 not out against Zimbabwe in August, brought up the century when he cut Imran Khan backward of point for his 16th boundary.
Captain Kane Williamson declared one run later.
Latham, who survived a close run-out chance while on 22 when substitute fielder Yasir Shah hit the stumps from side on, moved to his 11th Test half century in the over before lunch with three fours off Mohammad Amir to take his side to 97 for one.
However, just when he looked well set to score his sixth Test century after lunch, he got an unplayable short delivery from Wahab Riaz and ballooned a catch to wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed to be dismissed for 80.
Williamson was the only other wicket to fall after lunch when he received a delivery from Imran that angled in then straightened off the seam and was caught by Sarfraz for 42. Jeet Raval was earlier trapped in front by Amir for two.
The wickets of Henry Nicholls (26) and Colin de Grandhomme (32 from 21 balls), fell after tea.
Pakistan have not lost a series since they were beaten 2-0 in Sri Lanka in August 2014, winning five and drawing two, which included one drawn series in England earlier this year that gave them the top Test ranking before India moved past them.
Imran Khan ended the partnership in the fifth over after lunch, angling one into Williamson, forcing him to play, and nipping it away from just short of a good length to find his outside edge.
That could have been the second wicket in a short span of time, had Sami Aslam clung on to a chance offered by Latham with 2.3 overs left for lunch. Amir, inevitably, was the unlucky bowler. Latham pulled him in the air, to the left of midwicket. Aslam dived and got his left hand to the ball, but couldn’t hold on. In Amir’s next over, Latham rubbed it in, straight-driving, flicking, and pulling him for three fours to reach his half-century.
Williamson’s dismissal brought Taylor to the crease, and he soon announced himself with a flurry of square and late-cuts, needing the bare minimum of width or shortness of length to get on top of the bounce and chop the ball away.
Latham had moved to 80 when Wahab Riaz bounced him out in the middle of a typically hostile spell. With the ball rearing towards his head and cramping him for room, Latham flung his hands up and popped a catch to the wicketkeeper off his top glove.
Wahab should have had the wicket of Henry Nicholls as well. New to the crease, Nicholls’ footwork was severely tested by Wahab’s pace, and he edged him past second slip’s left hand before playing and missing with feet rooted to the spot. In his next over, he took on the short ball, and just about cleared the leaping long leg fielder with a hurried hook. For some reason, Sohail Khan was standing some ten yards inside the boundary rather than on the rope, where the chance would have been fairly straightforward.—AFP