A few late blows on the third day primed New Zealand for a big morning session on the fourth and Tim Southee rose to the call with two quick strikes. With only one Pakistan wicket left standing and 91 runs separating them from New Zealand's score, the visitors may have been forgiven for contemplating a substantial first-innings lead. As it turned out, it was only 10 runs, courtesy a defiant century from Sarfraz Ahmed, who led a final-wicket stand of 81 runs in 28 overs with Rahat Ali.
"We started so well and we got those three wickets and then unfortunately we couldn't quite, I guess, deliver the finishing blow there," Southee said, "They batted well, I think Sarfraz batted extremely well with the tail and worked the strike nicely and batted a good tempo. So they deserve some credit but I also think that we didn't quite get it right all the time in that first session"
Another setback for New Zealand was losing Tom Latham, their best batsman on the tour, to a marginal decision. The opener had been adjudged caught at leg gully off a sweep against Yasir Shah, but it was difficult to determine if he had hit it. Latham had opted for a review, but there was no HotSpot or Snicko available and the replays were unable to provide enough evidence for the third umpire to overrule the on-field call.
"Without HotSpot and Snicko, it's always going to be tough," Southee said. "It's always going to be what it is and it's the same for both teams so I think you just move on and you can't dwell on what's happened and what's going to happen"
Ross Taylor came to his side's rescue though and his half-century kept the line-up together in the face of concerted threat from Pakistan's spinners. Their lead is 177 runs heading into the final day, with the pitch having deteriorated enough that Yasir and Zulfiqar Babar were able to elicit considerable amounts of turn. Southee was mindful of that fact, but did not want to think about a target just yet.
"Wouldn't have a clue, we would talk about it tonight and by the time the game starts, we'll have a target in mind. I don't think it [pitch] will be unplayable. I think it will continue to deteriorate. We saw tonight that one that got BJ [Watling] bounced a little bit more than it has been, although it was disappointing for us, it was also encouraging signs going forward to tomorrow."
"There's plenty out there and it's starting to rough up there at the footmarks. So I think we're in for an exciting last day of the Test match"