Azhar Ali reaches three figures as Pakistan dominate first session of day three against Black Caps

Azhar Ali's century powered Pakistan to 224-3 at lunch day three of the third and final test against New Zealand.

Azhar, the dependable Pakistan No. 3 batsman, was batting on 111 off 245 balls with 10 fours. It was Azhar's 15th test hundred and first against New Zealand.

Asad Shafiq contributed with unbeaten 55 off 183 balls as both batsmen stretched their fourth-wicket stand to 139 runs.

Azhar's rare aggression in the first session saw Pakistan trailing the visitors by just 50 runs as New Zealand couldn't get the breakthrough even after bowling 10 overs with the second new ball before lunch.

New Zealand wasted one of its two reviews when they went for an unsuccessful caught behind television referral against Shafiq off Trent Boult's (2-54) first over with the second new ball.

Resuming on 139-3, Azhar square cut Boult over backward point for a boundary off the very first ball of the day.

Both New Zealand spinners - debutant Will Somerville and Ajaz Patel - couldn't get enough help off the wicket, and bowled 37 overs without a wicket, conceding 81 runs between them.

This was in sharp contrast to the effort of Pakistan spinners Bilal Asif and Yasir Shah, who bagged eight wickets in between them in New Zealand first innings score of 274.

Azhar, 62 overnight, completed his flawless century inside the first hour, off 210 balls, with an edgy boundary through third man off Colin de Grandhomme.

Shafiq then reached his fifty off 142 balls when he reverse swept Patel for two runs as Pakistan added 85 runs in the first session and denied New Zealand any success.

Pakistan's Azhar Ali. Source: Photosport