New Zealand take the lead in the first Test against Pakistan thanks to tons from Latham and Williamson.

New Zealand take the lead in the first Test against Pakistan thanks to tons from Latham and Williamson.

Kane Williamson and Tom Latham once again carried the New Zealand attack on their shoulders. The visitors totaled 440-6 on the third day of the first Test against Pakistan in Karachi.

Williamson, who relinquished his captaincy role in his team’s first tour of Pakistan in 20 years, capitalized on two writing errors for a total of 105 points and allowed the Black Caps to take two short leads.

Williamson’s 25th Test pitch was his first in international cricket since 238, also against Pakistan, at Christchurch in January last year.

He built on the strong foundation laid by fly-half Latham, who hit 113, and Devon Conway, who fell for 92.

Noman Ali batted a key run through Conway to dismiss the opener who was initially ruled out but had to leave after Pakistan reviewed umpire Alim Dar’s decision.

Latham settled a single on Abrar Ahmed to complete his 13th Test hundredth, the most by a New Zealand fly-half, in his 69th match.

The left-footed batter against the Bombers looked confident until an attempted reverse sweep against Abrar caused him to fall.

While the playing field at the National Stadium looks flat at the moment, it is likely to deteriorate on Days 4 and 5. Any significant advance will be crucial as it will put pressure on Pakistan to score in Group B and not just defend.

Williamson pushed fast bowler Muhammad Wasim for a fast single to complete his two hundred, one fifth against Pakistan.

However, everything could have been completely different for Pakistan. They would regret the missed chances, as goalkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmed missed two outs with Williamson on 15 and 21. Pitcher Noman Ali was the unlucky player on both occasions.

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“I think there were chances, but one of the deliveries was on the leg side and Sarfaraz did his best,” Nauman said.

“This floor is slow, so our effort will be to find the last four wicket early on the fourth day and set a good target closer to 200 – which would be good on this floor.”

Tom Blundell (47) and Daryl Mitchell (42) played useful catches and shared half-centuries with Williamson in the face of poor Pakistani play.

Blundell fell at the hands of Imam-ul-Haq in the middle of the field before being brought down by fast player Mohamed Waseem late in the day.

There was more drama off the field. Captain Babar Azam was among three Pakistani players who contracted the virus and did not take the field early. He stayed away until half an hour after lunch.

Latham, who hit 10 boundaries in his innings, believes New Zealand are in a good position to press for victory.

“The pitch is starting to turn more than the marks, so it’s obviously not going to be any easier for the batsmen,” he said.

“Hopefully from the position we’re in, we can go as far as we can and put Pakistan under pressure.”

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