New Zealand tee off after Babar declares, but bad light forces stalemate
Fifties from Imam-ul-Haq, Saud Shakeel helped Pakistan to safety with Ish Sodhi picking up six, before surprise declaration left NZ with a 138-run target
Pakistan 438 (Babar 161, Agha 103, Sarfaraz 86, Southee 3-69) and 311 for 8 dec (Imam 96, Shakeel 55*, Sodhi 6-86) drew with New Zealand 612 for 9 dec (Williamson 200*, Latham 113, Conway 92, Abrar 5-205) and 61 for 1 (Latham 35*, Abrar 1-23)
An out-of-the-blue declaration by Babar Azam set New Zealand a target of 138 in the final hour of the first Test in Karachi. Babar was all smiles after making the call, but it was a strange move. While a Pakistan win was next to impossible, a New Zealand win could certainly not be ruled out even though a draw was the most likely result.
New Zealand promoted Michael Bracewell to open with Devon Conway. Though Bracewell fell for 3, Conway and Tom Latham kept going for the target. At one stage, New Zealand needed 83 from nine overs. Babar looked concerned but the fading light lit up his face again as the game was called off when the target was 77 away with 7.3 overs left.
Earlier, Ish Sodhi's maiden five-wicket haul left Pakistan precariously close to their fifth successive defeat in the format. They were 206 for 7 - effectively 32 for 7 - with close to 50 overs left in the game, but Saud Shakeel and Mohammad Wasim added 71 for the eighth wicket to pull them out of the danger.
In the final session, Wasim seemed to be batting much more freely. He even slogged Bracewell over wide long-on for a six, and three off the next ball took Pakistan's lead past 100. But Sodhi had him lbw with a flipper to keep New Zealand in the game.
A few overs later, New Zealand had an opportunity to run Mir Hamza out when he sprinted down the track from the non-striker's end only to be sent back by Shakeel. Ajaz Patel, however, failed to collect the throw.
But otherwise, Hamza hung around stoutly with Shakeel, facing 34 balls for his unbeaten 3. Shakeel reached his half-century with six off Ajaz and, soon after, Babar called his men back.
Until then, the day belonged to Sodhi. Having trapped Babar lbw with a googly in the morning session, he picked up three more wickets after lunch to go with the one he took last evening.
Babar's wicket left Pakistan 100 for 4 but Imam-ul-Haq and Sarfaraz Ahmed revived them with an 85-run stand for the fifth wicket. After lunch, Sarfaraz brought up his second half-century of the match but fell on the very next ball. It was a short and wide delivery from Sodhi but Sarfaraz toe-ended his cut into the wicketkeeper's gloves.
Perhaps to maintain the left-right combination, Pakistan sent in Salman Agha ahead of Shakeel. Agha had scored a century in the first innings but this time Sodhi got one to sneak through his defences early.
The biggest blow to Pakistan's hopes came in Sodhi's next over. Throughout his innings, Imam had come down the track to counter Sodhi's turn from the rough outside off. He was on 96 when he used his feet again but this time Sodhi slipped in a googly to leave him stranded so far down the wicket that even a slight delay from Tom Blundell in effecting the stumping didn't matter.
Imam was furious with himself. On his way back to the pavilion, he smashed a chair with his bat and then threw his bat away. A New Zealand win looked likely at that stage but Shakeel and Wasim kept the visitors at bay, even after they took the second new ball.
In the morning, Tim Southee created a chance in the second over of the day when Imam drove at a full ball and got an outside edge. But there was no slip in place and the resulting boundary took Imam to his half-century. But it didn't take long for New Zealand to pick up their first wicket of the morning. In the next over, Bracewell dismissed nightwatcher Nauman Ali lbw.
Babar walked in at No. 5 and, after defending the first few deliveries, took full advantage when Bracewell erred on the shorter side. The Pakistan captain rocked back and pulled the offspinner to the square-leg boundary twice in a 12-run over.
That prompted Southee to bring Sodhi on, and the legspinner removed Babar with his very first ball of the day. The Pakistan captain opted to review the on-field verdict but it proved futile.
Sarfaraz started aggressively. After picking up two back-to-back fours off Southee, he hit three boundaries in Ajaz's first over of the day. The first two came via the sweep shot, and when Ajaz switched to over the wicket, Sarfaraz jumped towards the leg side and cut him through covers to move to 25 off 15 balls.
After that, Ajaz started bowling well outside leg and, apart from an occasional reverse sweep, Sarfaraz looked happy to pad him away.
Imam kept chipping in from the other end. With the partnership having crossed 50, Neil Wagner was introduced into the attack for the first time in the innings in the 57th over. He started around the wicket, and even had Blundell standing up to the stumps for an over, but Imam and Sarfaraz saw him out to take the side to lunch.
Sodhi opened up the game after the interval but Pakistan eventually got away with a draw.
Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo