Spinners put Pakistan on top after Williamson's fighting innings in Abu Dhabi

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Pakistan spinners Yasir Shah and Bilal Asif shared five wickets between them on the opening day of the third and final Test against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi to give the hosts the upper hand.

New Zealand, batting first after winning the toss, reached 229-7 at stumps on the first day of the deciding Test with captain Kane Williamson hitting a typically astute 89.

While skipper Williamson fell short of a well deserved century, keeper BJ Watling finished unbeaten on 42 to carry Kiwi hopes into the second day.

Leg-spinner Shah, who needed five wickets to become the fastest to 200 Test wickets heading into the match, picked up three quick wickets to end with figures of 3-62 while off-spinner Asif snared 2-57.

Shah had trapped opener Jeet Raval lbw on 45, before rattling the stumps of Ross Taylor for nought and Henry Nicholls for one as New Zealand took lunch at 73-4 at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium.

But Williamson kept the Pakistan bowlers at bay before seamer Hasan Ali ended his vigil. Debutant fast bowler Shaheen Afridi took the wicket of Tom Latham in his opening burst.

The series is locked at 1-1 after New Zealand won the first Test in Abu Dhabi by four runs while Sarfraz Ahmed‘s team leveled with an innings and 16 runs victory in Dubai.

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Pakistan quick Shaheen Afridi didn't expect Test opportunity so early in his career

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Pakistan quick Shaheen Afridi.

Pakistan‘s 18-year-old left-arm pacer Shaheen Afridi said he did not expect a red-ball opportunity to arise so early in his career after finding himself in line for Test debut against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi.

A shoulder injury to seamer Mohammad Abbas in the second Test in Dubai means Shaheen is all but certain to play the third Test which starts on Monday with the series locked at 1-1.

“If I get a chance I will do my best,” Shaheen was quoted as saying by AFP. “I always had belief in my ability and in my hard work although I didn’t expect my chance will come in Tests so early.”

The 18-year-old made his mark in domestic cricket last year, picking up 8-39 in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy – the best figures by a Pakistan bowler on first-class debut.

Shaheen then finished with 12 wickets at the Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand earlier in the year and followed it up with a five-wicket haul in a PSL match. Shaheen made his Pakistan debut at home in a Twenty20 series against the West Indies in March. He came into his own against New Zealand in last month’s ODI series where he took successive four wicket hauls and was declared player of the series.

The youngster was named in the Test squad for the New Zealand series only with the aim of developing his cricket rather than fielding him in a match. However, after Shaheen snared seven wickets – five of them clean bowled – in Pakistan A’s win over England Lions in their four-day match in Abu Dhabi last month and Abbas became unfit, the management warmed up to the idea of playing him.

Shaheen, just like legendary left-arm quick Wasim Akram, has played just three first-class matches before what should be his first Test.

“Test cricket is the ultimate so matching the great Wasim’s feat will motivate me a lot and just like I do in limited over matches, I will try to take wickets for my team to win the series,” said Shaheen.

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Pakistan star Shahid Afridi hits seven sixes in T10, powers Pakhtoons to final

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Shahid Afridi hit a match-winning fifty in T10 League.

Pakistan icon and T10 League side Pakhtoons captain Shahid Afridi came up with a match-winning effort in the first Qualifier in Sharjah on Saturday.

Afridi hit seven sixes during his innings of 59 not out from just 17 balls which helped his Pakhtoons team post a total of 135-5 against the Northern Warriors.

He also hit three fours during his innings that took the team to a challenging score in the crucial clash.

His innings was the first substantial innings in the T10 League for Afridi after mainly employing himself as a bowler in the tournament.

Afridi’s knock proved critical as Windies batsman Rovman Powell belted 80 from just 35 balls with nine sixes but couldn’t see the Warriors home.

Afridi bowled two overs for 25 runs and saw his team hold on to a 13-run win.

With the win, Pakhtoons qualified for the final of the tournament.

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