Nicholls, Watling fight back with wicketless session

Henry Nicholls and BJ Watling’s unbeaten 92-run stand ensured that Pakistan endured a wicketless afternoon session on Day 3 in Abu Dhabi. The duo made up for a very average morning session, where the hosts picked three crucial wickets, by thrusting New Zealand into a growing 126-run lead at Tea.
Nicholls struck a patient half-century, his sixth in Test cricket, to partner Watling with aplomb — the latter playing with a similar strike-rate of around 38 to make Pakistan toil with an old ball that didn’t quite reverse like it did in the first session today. There was consistent spin for Yasir Shah and Bilal Asif but with slow turn on offer and the batsmen now used to the pace of the pitch, Pakistan found life difficult. And so did New Zealand, who scored only 66 runs in 30 overs since lunch.
Henry Nicholls survived a few close calls at short leg off Yasir Shah but that was as close as Pakistan got to taking a wicket. Sarfraz Ahmed also reviewed an LBW decision in vain against Nicholls, with the ball-tracking suggesting that the Yasir Shah delivery had hit the pad off the inside edge.
Pakistan, now a bit behind the eight ball, will look to strike big with the second new ball that is due immediately after lunch. Any lead of around 200 and more should test a historically volatile Pakistan batting line-up.
Brief Scores: New Zealand 153 & 200/4 (Henry Nicholls 51*, BJ Watling 43*; Hasan Ali 3-30) lead Pakistan 227 (Babar Azam 62, Asad Shafiq 43; Trent Boult 4-54) by 126 runs.