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NZ strike late to take control of Test

AAP logoAAP 18/11/2016 Daniel Gilhooly

A Neil Wagner short-ball onslaught has lifted New Zealand to the brink of victory in the first Test against Pakistan in Christchurch.

Six wickets fell in the final session of day three as Pakistan's staunch second-innings rearguard faltered, leaving them listing at 129-7 off a painstaking 66 overs.

The tourists hold a 62-run advantage with three wickets in hand after dismissing New Zealand for 200 soon before lunch on a green Hagley Oval.

A low-scoring Test appeared evenly-balanced when Pakistan crawled to 50-1 at tea but two key wickets claimed by a fired-up Wagner (2-21) swung momentum.

Sustained short-pitched bowling was again the successful recipe for Wagner, who was barely used in the first innings when conditions were swing-friendly.

He snared Babar Azam for 29 and Younis Khan for two, both caught by wicketkeeper BJ Watling.

Wagner became New Zealand's 13th player to snare 100 Test wickets in the process.

The 30-year-old was pleased simply to fulfil his job description - as a bowler who ruffles up batsmen when they start getting comfortable.

"I've got to try and make something happen when it's not swinging or when it starts to get a little bit easy," he said.

"You've still got to execute it and lucky it was one of those days it worked.

"We had to work really hard and bowl long periods of time to get that success and we did."

Trent Boult (3-18) was lethal late in the day, ending the 173-ball vigil of opener Azhar Ali (31), who played on.

Wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed and Mohammad Amir also fell cheaply to the left-arm paceman.

It left the last recognised batsman, Asad Shafique (6 not out), to see Pakistan through to stumps alongside a big-hitting Sohail Khan (22 not out).

The tourists played out 25 maidens in a defensive approach which eventually backfired against a persistent New Zealand attack.

Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur said his team felt strangled as their innings wore on.

"New Zealand got their reward for some pretty good work today, right at the back end of it," he said.

"They were relentless. They put us under pressure all the time, and there were no freebies on offer at all."

Pakistan's slim hopes of victory will hinge on building a three-figure lead and then exploiting hostile conditions as they did earlier on Saturday.

Their three-pronged pace attack took the last seven New Zealand wickets for 96 runs under overcast skies.

Rahat Ali claimed 4-62 while fellow left-armer Amir and Sohail bagged three each, all causing the batsmen to rush shots against significant sideways movement.

Resuming on 104-3, New Zealand lost overnight pair Henry Nicholls (30) and Jeet Raval (55) inside four overs.

It took aggressive knocks in the 20s from de Grandhomme, Southee and Wagner to give the hosts a crucial 67-run lead.

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