New Zealand openers Devon Conway and Tom Latham blunted Pakistan bowlers to guide their side to a solid 165 without loss at close on the second day of the first Test in Karachi on Tuesday.
Conway became the fastest New Zealand batter to complete 1,000 runs in his 11th Test when he reached 82 at close and was ably supported by Latham who was unbeaten on 78.
The tourists are now 273 runs behind Pakistan’s first innings total of 438 which was spiced up by a brilliant maiden hundred from middle-order batter Agha Salman.
“I feel proud because it’s great to score a hundred for your country,” said the 29-year-old. “I can’t describe the feeling in words and am happy that I took responsibility after our skipper fell early.”
Salman anchored the innings after skipper Babar Azam fell in the first over of the day without adding to his overnight score of 161.
Azam struck 16 boundaries and a six in his 365-minute knock.
Conway, the South African-born left-hander who migrated to New Zealand to boost his career, was lucky to survive a caught behind dismissal on 57 off spinner Nauman Ali.
Pakistan did not challenge home umpire Aleem Dar’s not out decision but television replays showed the batter had edged the ball.
Before Conway, John Reid had reached 1,000 career runs in 12 Tests in 1985.
Conway has so far struck 12 boundaries while Latham has eight hits to the rope.
Fast bowler Tim Southee forced an edge off Azam’s bat to wicketkeeper Tom Blundell to give a kickstart to New Zealand.
The spin-assisting National Stadium pitch was set to change behaviour, Salman said.
“The pitch is playing well but definitely it will take more spin as the game progresses and batting on the fifth day will be tough,” said Salman.
New Zealand spinner Ish Sodhi hoped it could be used to the Kiwis’ advantage.
“After watching ten overs from Pakistan I thought it will spin more,” said Sodhi. “Definitely there are footmarks on the pitch and, hopefully, we can utilise that, but first we have a job to do with the bat.”
Pakistan also lost Nauman (seven) and Mohammad Wasim (two) in the first session, which produced just 60 runs.
Salman added 54 runs for the seventh wicket before New Zealand took two wickets in the space of three runs.
Pacer Neil Wagner had Nauman caught off a short-pitched delivery before Wasim was caught behind off Sodhi.
Salman then cut loose, hitting two successive boundaries off Sodhi to complete three figures. His previous best of 62 was against Sri Lanka at Galle in July.
Southee, who finished with 3-69, finally ended the innings by trapping Salman leg before, completing 350 wickets in his 89th Test.
He is the third New Zealand bowler behind Richard Hadlee (431 in 86 Tests) and Daniel Vettori (362 in 113) to take 350 or more wickets in Tests.
Salman hit 17 boundaries during his 155-ball knock.
Ajaz Patel, Michael Bracewell and Sodhi took two wickets apiece.
The two-match Test series is New Zealand’s first in Pakistan since 2002.