Kiwis shut in on win towards Pak

Mount Maunganui, Dec 29

Tim Southee claimed his 300th Test wicket as New Zealand edged closer to a win over Pakistan on the fourth day of the first Test.

New Zealand set Pakistan 373 to win after leading by 192 on the first innings and declaring their second innings at 180/5, shortly before tea. At stumps Pakistan were 71/3, still 302 runs behind, with Azhar Ali 34 not out and Fawad Alam 21. The unbroken 34-run partnership between Azhar and Fawad, which occupied 89 minutes before stumps, helped the tourists recover from a dreadful start which saw them two wickets down without a run on the board.

Southee took the first Pakistan wicket to fall today and finished the day with 2/15 from nine overs.

Southee became the third Kiwi after Richard Hadlee (431) and Daniel Vettori (361), the 34th bowler from all nations and only the fourth active player, to achieve the 300-wicket milestone. His wickets have come in 76 Tests at an average of 28.48 and a strike rate of 56.8.

Those statistics compare favourably with the England pair James Anderson and Stuart Broad who have 600 and 514 wickets, respectively, but have played twice as many Tests as Southee. Anderson averages 26.7, Broad 27.6 and both have strike rates around 56.

Southee’s regular new ball partner, Trent Boult, is also closing in on the 300-wicket mark. He currently has 275 wickets at an average of 28.

“It’s obviously a pretty cool moment (to reach 300 wickets),” Southee said. “You’re out there with your mates and some of them have obviously been there for a long time as well. I’ve enjoyed some great moments with these guys along the way and it’s just a great feeling to be out there with a great bunch of guys and a good crowd here on Day 4 at a beautiful cricket ground.”

At 32, Southee still has many more wickets to come.

“I like Test cricket and I want to play it as long as I can,” he said. “I don’t like to put a number on it but you look at the likes of James Anderson, still doing a hell of a job at the age of 38. You’re a long time retired so as long as you can keep performing at the levels that are required I don’t see a reason to put a number on it.” — AP

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