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Williamson closes in on 23rd Test century steadying New Zealand

A marathon knock from New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson prevented Pakistan from gaining any advantage after the first day of their first Test at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui on Saturday.

Pakistan’s decision to bowl first initially seemed vindicated when Shaheen Shah Afridi tore through New Zealand’s top order reducing the hosts to 13-2. But Williamson, fresh from his career best 251 against West Indies a month ago, held the innings with an ultra cautious approach as New Zealand finished the day at 222-3.

Williamson was began the damage repair by a 120-run third wicket partnership with veteran batsman Ross Taylor who now is the man with most number of international match for New Zealand with 438 games. In doing so, Taylor eclipsed Daniel Vettori’s record of playing 437 matches.

Taylor was the third victim of Afridi caught behind by Mohammad Rizwan after making 70 from 151 deliveries. His innings included 10 fours and a six. After Taylor’s departure, Williamson continued to get resilient adding another 89 unbeaten runs with Henry Nicholls.

Williamson, just six runs away from his 23rd Test ton, will be batting on 94 when the second day’s play begins on Sunday. His 243-ball marathon knock included eight fours and a six. Nicholls is batting on 42 off 100 with four hits to the fence.

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