Cricket: Kane Williamson magic puts Blackcaps in box seat against Pakistan

An extraordinary unbeaten fifth-wicket partnership between captain Kane Williamson and Henry Nicholls has put the Blackcaps in the box seat on Day Four of the third test against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

Starting the penultimate day on 26/2, New Zealand slipped to 60/4, before Williamson (139 not out) struck his 19th test century, combining with Nicholls (90 not out) to carry the Blackcaps to 272/4 at stumps, a lead of 198 runs with one day to play.

The unbeaten 212-run stand is a New Zealand fifth-wicket record against Pakistan.

The day started with Williamson and Will Somerville at the crease, and the Blackcaps trailing Pakistan by 48 runs, after bowling the hosts out for 348 on Day Three.

New Zealand lost nightwatchman Somerville in the seventh over, when the debutant was trapped in front of the wicket by leg-spinner Yasir Shah.

Shah's fifth wicket of the contest, in his 33rd test, saw him replace Australian Clarrie Grimmett as the fastest man to claim 200 test victims - a record set 82 years ago.

Ross Taylor (22) then came to the crease, but didn't last long, as Shaheen Shah Afridi had him caught at square leg, leaving New Zealand at 60/4.

That brought Williamson and Nicholls together, and New Zealand belatedly showed some resilience.

Pakistan missed opportunities in the field, with Shah dropping Williamson twice - on 80 and 106 - while Imam-ul-Haq missed a sharp catch, after left-hander Nicholls reached his 50.   

Nicholls also survived two reviews, appearing to have edged behind to the wicketkeeper and another that would have seen him out lbw. The 27-year-old is just 10 runs away from his third test century when play resumes on Friday.

New Zealand have plenty to do on the final day, if they want to win the deciding test and claim their first away test series win over Pakistan in 49 years.

The Blackcaps may aim to score quick runs in the first session on Day Five and then declare, sending their bowlers in to claim 10 wickets, otherwise the match - and series - will end in a draw.