YASIR NISAR / PHOTOSPORT
We have this: BJ Watling and Henry Nicholls talk during their 112 partnership, which gave hope to New Zealand against Pakistan.
It was Groundhog Day in Abu Dhabi for the Black Caps, whose familiar collapse left them looking for a first defeat in the test for Pakistan, clinging to the hope that recent history at the stadium could be repeated.
Pakistan's leaders, Imam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Hafeez, are set to resume on Wednesday night at 37.00, needing another 139 rounds to win 1-0 in the three-set series. Eight overs before New Zealand bowlers stumps hardly raised hopes of a remarkable victory.
Pakistan's goal of 176 was much smaller than expected after BJ Watling (59) and Henry Nicholls (55) joined for a stand of 112 that saw the owners of the house looking at the barrel of over 250 .
Then the first day was repeated to New Zealand: they lost their last six wickets by 29 with the help of leg jumper Yasir Shah, who collected four balls in 15 balls before swimmer Hasan Ali (5-45) finished job. From 220 to 4, all of a sudden, there were 249.
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It was strangely similar in the first innings of 153 Caps of the Black Caps when its last six wickets fell by 30.
Having ushered in the path of those horrors of the first day, New Zealand will be opening the dressing room door that they could not keep and will actually put Pakistan under the torch.
Now they need a little miracle from their main striker, Trent Boult, and the duo Ajaz Patel and Ish Sodhi, with the help of recent history at Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
In the 11 tests in Pakistan in Abu Dhabi, the team that won last time won only once: in 2013, when the hosts needed only 40 to beat South Africa.
In the two most recent tests in the country, Australia was fired by 164 last month (373 defeats in Pakistan), and last year Sri Lanka moved up to Pakistan by 114 in the fourth round (a win of 21 wins).
Having won the honors on day two, New Zealand resumed the chance to truly dominate the dispute.
Kane Williamson and Jeet Raval added 86 for the second wicket, the last one coming out of their recent test crash as they advanced on the spinners and moved confidently in the face of a seventh half-century test.
Shah started swinging New Zealand with a yolk for Williamson (37) who threw back and was beaten by turn. The captain seemed incredulous to have lost, and he hit the stumps, and asked for confirmation from the referees.
He triggered a mini-collapse of 3-22, which left the Black Caps playing catchup for the rest of the day before his final free fall.
Ross Taylor (19 of 19) looked like a million dollars and had his feet in motion before Hasan scored a good goal through his defense.
Raval (46) lost his way for a fraction and was drawn to a shot similar to his first day of dispensation, biting a bit more of the Hasan that at that moment was breathing fire.
Watling and Nicholls struck out in the middle, while Shah and opponent Bilal Asif got a little but were not threatening the old ball too much.
The scoring rate was not electric, but it did not have to be, since Nicholls reached his sixth half-century test of 123 balls, then Watling, his 15th to 129th. At that time, Pakistan was exhausted and seemed poised to chase a target steep.
The second new ball did the trick, notably for Shah, who had on a rope with the extra turn and jump.
Nicholls missed the play and was superbly caught by Sarfraz, Colin de Grandhomme's fight for races continued when he was well beaten on the turn and Watling got very loose and was trapped in front.
Neil Wagner got a looter at Shah's gate (5-110) and some late Sodhi blows at least raised the target and provided a glimmer of hope for the tour team.