Pakistan's leg-spinner Yasir Shah struck in his first over to keep New Zealand down to 81-3 at lunch on the opening day of the first Test in Abu Dhabi on Friday.
Yasir removed opener Tom Latham with the fourth ball into his introduction for 13 before dismissing Ross Taylor for two after New Zealand won the toss and opted to bat on a grassless Sheikh Zayed Stadium pitch.
At the break, skipper Kane Williamson was unbeaten on 40 and Henry Nicholls was 15 not out as Pakistan dominated the session extended to two and a half hours due to Friday prayers.
Williamson, declared fit to play after missing the last one-day with a groin injury, has stood firm with three boundaries and having added 42 for the unbroken fourth wicket stand with Nicholls.
New Zealand openers Jeet Raval and Latham survived some anxious moments before pace spearhead Mohammad Abbas had Raval edging to wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed after scoring seven.
Yasir, who had to endure a tough last week due to the death of his mother, had Latham caught at mid-wicket off a loose drive.
In his fourth over Yasir had Taylor caught behind with a sharp leg-break, leaving New Zealand at 39-3. Yasir has figures of 2-33.
New Zealand handed Test debut to 30-year-old left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel, leaving out pacer Tim Southee.