Haris Sohail, Azhar Ali star on day of attrition
The Kiwi bowlers kept things tight, and although it was just the first day, the pitch offered plenty of turn for the spinners, while the old ball moved prodigiously for Neil Wagner and Trent Boult. Yet Pakistan stood firm, courtesy of steely knocks by Azhar Ali (81) and Haris Sohail (81*).
The duo came together at 25/2 after Colin de Grandhomme had removed both the openers cheaply and they put on a painstaking 126-run stand to give Pakistan a strong foundation in this match.
Of the two Azhar was more willing to play shots, while Haris Sohail played a little more expansively towards the end of the day's play.
Pakistan's position could have been even better were it not for Azhar's untimely run out in the middle of the final session. It was a rather avoidable episode too. Azhar had set off for a quick but comfortable single after pushing the ball to mid-off, but Sohail at the other end was not interested, and realised Azhar's intentions only once his partner was halfway down the pitch. Azhar turned back in a haste, but was short of the crease.
Sohail looked a tad tentative after that hiccup, just like he had early on in the innings, but soon regained his composure. With a solid platform to cash in on, Asad Shafiq wanted to play his shots but he paid the price for attempting one too many, top-edging a heave to backward point off Ajaz Patel to fall for 12.
Babar Azam (14*) looked more assured at the crease and hit Trent Boult for back-to-back boundaries off the second new ball, keeping Sohail company until stumps.
New Zealand will feel that they didn't do too much wrong apart from missing a couple of chances in the field. An edge off Azhar's bat when he was on nought went safely between keeper and slip with BJ Watling and Ross Taylor waiting for the other to pounce. Later an inside edge off Sohail's bat which also grazed his pad caught Watling by surprise, giving the batsman a reprieve before he'd reached his half-century.
Pakistan close the day on 207/4 after New Zealand fight back with two wickets in the final session. Haris Sohail is unbeaten on 81 not out from 240 balls.#PAKvNZ SCORECARD 👇https://t.co/sHrmQnbNyn pic.twitter.com/3J5s1ePIDX— ICC (@ICC) November 24, 2018
The all-rounder de Grandhomme was the most productive bowler on the day, getting the two early wickets. He had Hafeez caught at second slip with one that straightened, and then found late movement to find Imam's edge on the way to the second slip.
Having fought hard on a day of slow run-scoring, Pakistan will look to build on their strong platform on day two.