Tom Latham defiance not enough

Tom Latham defiance not enough

Four-wicket Rahat puts Pakistan in firm control

By James Jose - Senior Reporter (KT photo by Shoaib Anwer)

Published: Wed 12 Nov 2014, 12:51 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 9:23 PM

Abu Dhabi: That the New Zealand batting would struggle to cope on such surfaces and against a strong bowling attack of Pakistan, was expected. The Black Caps hadn’t had a taste of Test cricket for almost three months since they were on the road to the Carribean. And it was pretty much so as the Kiwis were left to see a sorry looking scorecard and a lunch they clearly wouldn’t have enjoyed.

New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum had said on the eve of the series that they were under no illusions and that they needed to learn lessons from what Australia didn’t do and bat for long periods. But the rustiness showed in the Kiwis as they floundered when it was their dig in the first Test.

As the star-spangled names like McCullum and Ross Taylor were found out, young lad Tom Latham showed how it should be done. Opener Latham, all of 22 and just five-Test old, defied his way to a maiden Test hundred at the Shaikh Zayed International Cricket Stadium on Tuesday.

Latham, whose previous best was 83, displayed the right repertoire of shots which is required in such conditions and against such bowlers to make 103. He was the only one to have a proper measure of the Pakistan attack. Corey Anderson and wicketkeeper BJ Watling too helped in chipping away at Pakistan’s first innings but they succumbed for 262, 304 runs short and 105 adrift of the follow-on.

Rahat ended up with four wickets, while Zulfiqar picked up three.

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq and coach Waqar Younis had held discussions during the innings and it seemed they might enforce the follow-on after 12 years. But that was not to be as they opted to bat and saw out the remaining six overs at 15 for no loss, a lead of 319. Opener Mohammed Hafeez was on five, while Azhar Ali, promoted after opener Ahmed Shehzad was rendered hors de combat, was on nine. Meanwhile, Latham, son of all-rounder Rod Latham, capitalised on a reprieve when on 32 after wicketkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmed failed to latch on to an edge off Mohammed Hafeez, to get to a deserving hundred.

He became the third New Zealand father-son pair after Richard and Walter Hadlee and Hamish and Ken Rutherford to score a Test hundred. At 22 years and 21 days, Latham also became the third youngest Kiwi opener to make a Test century. The left-hander is the youngest to do so in 35 years.

Earlier, McCullum’s resistance lasted just nine runs and as he went for a pre-meditated front foot defence to left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar and hard edged it into Younis Khan’s lap at slip, in the 11th over, and 45 minutes into the day.

The openers had put on 33 and that this was their best first wicket partnership in 12 innings, doesn’t speak very highly of their top order. Their opening woes or blues, so to speak, has now stretched to 11 innings where they have not gone beyond more than 23. The Kiwis also find themselves in India and Zimbabwe’s company as the only other team that does not have a 50-run opening partnership in Tests this year.

The Kiwis lost their second wicket in a freaky fashion in the next over after Kane Williamson (3) tried to dig out a Rahat Ali yorker but could only watch it sneak through and disturb his furniture. The batsman did make an attempt to swish it away but in vain. Williamson has five single digit scores in his last 19 innings and three of them are three. Ross Taylor, returning from a calf injury, joined McCullum and Williamson back in the dressing room two overs later for nought, after he edged Zulfiqar to Asad Shafiq at gully. Taylor faced six balls and he never previously has played more than two balls when he has made a Test duck.

The Kiwis had toiled 171 overs for the three Pakistan wickets to fall but it took Pakistan just 34 to snap up three. All eyes were on the spin duo of Zulfiqar and Yasir Shah with the morning session belonging to the former. But left-arm quick Rahat Ali bowled a dream spell of 8-7-1-1, with Williamson falling in his fifth over. New Zealand took lunch at 81 for three, trailing by 485 runs.

It was left to Latham and Corey Anderson to do the fire fighting and the pair put together 83 runs for the fourth wicket before Anderson chopped Rahat onto his stumps, two shy of a second half-century.

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