Pakistan's Alam, Rizwan set up grand finale in NZ Test

Pakistan's Alam, Rizwan set up grand finale in New Zealand Test

With 36 overs remaining, Pakistan need 158 to win while New Zealand need six more wickets

Pakistan's Fawad Alam (L) and Mohammad Rizwan (R) touch gloves during the fifth day of the first cricket Test match between New Zealand and Pakistan at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui on December 30, 2020. Credit: AFP Photo

Pakistan's Fawad Alam and Mohammad Rizwan defied New Zealand with an absorbing century stand to take the first Test into a final-session showdown on Wednesday.

At tea on day five, Alam was unbeaten on 94, Rizwan was on 45 and Pakistan were 215 for four, setting up a potentially gripping finish.

With 36 overs remaining, Pakistan need 158 to win while New Zealand need six more wickets. A draw would all but end New Zealand's chance of making the World Test Championship final at Lord's in June.

Alam and Rizwan have added 140 in 52 overs for the fifth wicket.

It is Alam's second-highest score as he, at last, showed the promise expected of him after struggling since his recall against England in August after 11 years in the Test wilderness.

After a few anxious moments at the start of his innings, the left-hander found his rhythm as he worked the ball through the field, bringing up his 50 off 149 deliveries with a single through midwicket.

New Zealand's strike pair Tim Southee and Trent Boult had seven overs with the new ball late in the middle session but while there were close shaves, there were no serious threats on a pitch not offering as much bounce variation as expected.

When Kyle Jamieson replaced Boult there was a loud appeal to have Rizwan caught at first slip but replays showed it was a bump ball.

Jamieson had earlier been tasked with using up the old ball along with Mitchell Santner and Neil Wagner for the first 15 overs after lunch, with Kane Williamson also sending down two overs in his first bowl for more than a year.

It was a period of containment where they restricted the run flow, but the nearest they came to a wicket was an inside edge from Alam off Jamieson that narrowly missed leg stump.