New Zealand’s Kane Williamson plays a shot during the fourth day of their first Test against Pakistan at National Stadium in Karachi on Thursday. KARACHI: Kane Williamson hit a scintillating 200 not out as New Zealand took control of the first Test against Pakistan at National Stadium here on Thursday. Williamson, who relinquished Test captaincy earlier this month, proved he remains New Zealand’s batting mainstay steering them to a mammoth 612-9 before skipper Tim Southee declared with a lead of 174. In reply, Pakistan finished day four on 77-2, still 97 behind and needing to bat out of their skin to deny New Zealand a 1-0 lead in the two-Test series. Opener Imamul Haq was batting on 45 with nightwatchman Nauman Ali on four at the other end when the stumps were drawn for the day. Pakistan have lost their last four Tests – including a first-ever 3-0 whitewash at the hands of England – and are now 97 runs behind with eight wickets intact. The home team’s task of salvaging a draw shouldn’t ordinarily be onerous on a National Stadium pitch that has not so far taken a sharp turn, but their propensity for middle-order collapses recently has given New Zealand the sniff of victory. Earlier, Pakistan bowlers had to break their back for the occasional success on a flat track at the National Stadium and more toil awaited them after New Zealand resumed on 440-6. Overnight batsmen Williamson and Ish Sodhi, who made a career-best 65, combined in a seven-wicket partnership of 159 to frustrate the hosts. Abrar Ahmed (5-205) finally broke the stand when he removed Sodhi to spark off a lower-order collapse, but Williamson could not be denied his milestone. With number 11 Ajaj Patel at the other end, Williamson hit Abrar for a six to inch closer to the double hundred and, four overs later, reached the milestone with a single off the spinner. Williamson, who hit 21 fours in his patient 395-ball knock, removed his helmet and raised his bat in a characteristically low-key celebration and New Zealand declared immediately. Pakistan’s attack looked exhausted having to bowl nearly 195 overs on an unresponsive track. Spinners Abrar and Nauman (3-185) slogged collectively for nearly 131 overs and the bowlers’ task was made tougher by the overall sloppiness of the side. The hosts dropped three catches, missed a couple of stumpings and twice opted against reviews which would have resulted into wickets. Pakistan could not escape the final session unharmed either when they came out to bat for the second time in the match. Abdullah Shafique stepped out against Michael Bracewell only to chip him to the mid-on fielder and Shan Masood was trapped lbw by Sodhi. New Zealand are playing their first Test series in Pakistan for 20 years.