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Ton-up Hafeez lift Pakistan to 281/3 on Day 1

Ton-up Hafeez lift Pakistan to 281/3 on Day 1
Opener Mohammad Hafeez struck a dominating century to lift Pakistan to 281 for 3 in the third and final Test against New Zealand in Sharjah, here on Wednesday.

The 34-year-old anchored Pakistan’s innings with an unbeaten 178, his seventh Test hundred and second in the series, as Pakistan dominated the day after winning a crucial toss and deciding to bat on a flat, grass-less Sharjah stadium pitch. Hafeez added an invaluable 121 for the fourth wicket with skipper Misbah-ul Haq who was unbeaten on a chancy 38 and 87 for the second wicket with Azhar Ali (39).

It was an aggressive knock during which Hafeez drove and pulled with authority, clobbering 23 boundaries and three sixes. Misbah, batting in his usual cautious style, benefitted from a dropped catch on 20 when wicket-keepe BJ Watling failed to hold an edge off leg-sppiner Ish Sodhi.

New Zealand’s three-spinner attack failed to get any spin with Mark Craig getting 2-67 and recalled Daniel Vettori 1-28. New Zealand, seeking to level the three-match series after losing the first in Abu Dhabi by 248 runs and drawing the second in Dubai, hit back in the second session by dismissing Ali and in-form Younis Khan for five.

Pakistan were comfortably placed at 82-1 at lunch but Ali became off-spinner Craig’s second wicket, caught in the slip off a loose shot. Younis, who hit three hundreds in Pakistan’s 2-0 rout of Australia last month and one more in the first Test of this series, was trapped leg-before by left-armer Vettori.

Vettori, recalled in place of Jimmy Neehsam, is playing his 112th match for New Zealand, becoming his country’s most capped player beating Stephen Fleming who played 111. Vettori also played one Test for an ICC World XI in 2005. He was accorded a guard of honour by New Zealand players as he entered the field.

Hafeez reached his hundred with a couple of boundaries and a single, reaching the mark in 130 balls aided with 14 boundaries and two sixes. In the first session, Pakistan had a confident start of 44 before Craig bowled Shan Masood for 12.

BRIEFSCORES Pakistan 281 for 3 (Hafeez 178*, Misbah 38*, Craig 2-67) v New Zealand.
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