As the hosts toiled away on a Karachi pitch that appeared to have eased up enough for steady run-scoring, New Zealand Devon Conway and Tom Latham added 165 unbeaten runs in the highest opening stand in New Zealand history in Tests played in Pakistan. They surpassed the previous best of 136 runs, which had been set in 1965. The previous best had been set in 1965.
It was a chanceless partnership for the most part throughout; the fact that Babar Azam himself came on to roll his arm over as stumps approached was an indication of how dominant the batting was and how ineffective the bowling was, having also bowled the final over before tea, which was an indication of how dominant the batting was. After Agha Salman scored his first century in a Test earlier in the day, Pakistan’s score increased to 438 and New Zealand’s deficit decreased to 273.
In addition to scoring an unbeaten 82 runs, Conway became the New Zealand batsman with the fastest path to 1000 runs in a Test match by reaching that milestone in 19 innings. Even though he and his partner are both left-handed, the challenges that they provide to bowlers when they are at the crease together are completely different from one another. On Tuesday, as if to serve as an illustration of the truth of this statement, both of them scored the exact same percentage of their runs, which was one-third, in the exact opposite way. Conway will be fielding in the arc between point and long off, and Latham will be fielding between fine leg and midwicket.
Pakistan began the evening session with spin bowling from both ends, with Nauman Ali aiming for the rough outside the hitters’ off stump and Abrar Ahmed attempting to stir things up with his variations. And despite the fact that there was plenty twist to make things interesting, with the occasional ball scuttling through at ankle-height, the breakthrough that they had been working so diligently to achieve never materialised.
Conway would frequently take a large stride forward in order to smother the spin, and he would even employ the reverse sweep in order to hit two boundaries. In addition to this, Conway would drive and slash any time the bowlers went too full or too wide. Latham, on the other hand, obtained 40 of his 78 runs with the use of traditional strokes such as the sweep and the flick.
When the score was 105 in the 31st over, Pakistan had a chance to break the partnership when Conway inside-edged a delivery from Nauman that went through to the wicketkeeper. Except that everything appeared to be perfectly harmless, and it appeared as though the umpire made the correct call when he declared that the batter was not out. After all, Sarfaraz Ahmed was the only one who made an argument, and even that was only partially convincing. However, then came the replays, which revealed visible signs of a nick.
Even if not everything went according to plan, Pakistan still have plenty to work with, and a large part of the credit for that goes to Salman, who hit 103 out of 155 and piled on quick, useful runs at the tail end of the team. Salman contributed 99 of those runs, which were scored in partnerships totaling 54 with Nauman, 39 with Mir Hamza, and 24 with Abrar to bring the total for Pakistan’s last four wickets to 120.
At the beginning of the afternoon session, Salman was still undefeated on 54 and had Hamza for company. He scored his final 49 runs in only 45 balls and smashed eleven fours, ensuring that Pakistan would pass the 400-run mark in their innings. Salman attacked Neil Wagner, frequently leaving himself space to swat or pull Wagner’s short punches. And when Wagner tried something different, Salman struck three fours in the 125th over: he swung to deep square leg, lofted over extra cover off a full length, and slapped to deep point when the left-arm quick went for a slower ball.
Salman reverse swept Ish Sodhi a couple times before scoring his century off a pull when the legspinner pitched the ball short and outside leg. Salman was confident in his ability to execute bold strokes. Eventually, Tim Southee was able to corner him in front of the plate after the batter’s attempt to hoick the ball over the line was unsuccessful.
Before the morning’s monotony set in, Southee had also taken out Babar for 161 with the fourth ball of the day. After that, the day was relatively uneventful. However, the guests were successful twice after the deadline. Because of this, things settled down to the point where Salman and Nauman went a total of 28 balls without scoring, beginning with the third ball of the 95th over.
Nauman scored his first run off of his sixth delivery, but he had to wait until his 48th delivery to produce his next scoring shot, which was a slog sweep off of Ajaz Patel that scored four runs. At the other end of the line, Salman kept things moving along. When New Zealand appealed Aleem Dar’s judgement that they were not out for a leg-before, they did so with the belief that they had him out on 36. However, replays demonstrated that Sodhi’s googly turned in just enough to miss the leg stump.
When Wagner, who had been called into the attack with the intention of use the short-ball strategy, sent Nauman back just before lunch, New Zealand eventually broke the frustrating stand that had lasted for more than 26 overs.