Mohammad Sami gives New Zealand a fright
New Zealand 563 (Fleming 192, Vettori 137*, Shabbir 5-117) and 96 for 8 (Sami 5-44) drew with Pakistan 463 (Moin 137, Tuffey 5-87)
Mohammad Sami raced in and sent shivers down the spines of batsmen with 5 for 44
Hamilton's clouds parted long enough on the last day of the first Test between New Zealand and Pakistan for another advertisement of Test cricket's virtues to be played out. Soon, though, the heavens opened, and a reeling New Zealand team was let off the hook. A win would still have been unlikely for Pakistan, but they gave themselves every chance of an upset, reducing New Zealand to 52 for 7 at one stage.
Mohammad Sami found the rhythm that had deserted him in his no-ball-plagued first innings, and bowled with dazzling speed and accuracy, his fastest ball being measured at 154kph. It was too much for the sleepy New Zealanders, who had moped around during a morning lost to bad weather. The umpires decided to start after lunch, with 75 overs remaining in a day that was originally to have been contested over 105.
Sami, who performed a destruction job in the first Test of Pakistan's last series in New Zealand - in 2000-01, when NZ lost nine wickets for 26 - wound up and routed the top order. He took 5 for 44 in all, and bowled 13 overs unchanged from the start of play, in which he took 4 for 32. Support from Umar Gul, who dismissed Mark Richardson, caught behind by Moin Khan for 15, and then bowled Chris Cairns for a first-ball duck, was an unexpected bonus.
New Zealand had reached a tentative 13 when Sami homed in on the length and line that made him so devastating. Lou Vincent got a full ball which flew high to second slip, where Imran Farhat leapt high to pull in the catch (13 for 1). Stephen Fleming, the first-innings centurymaker, then got an edge to a good-length rising ball that was taken by Moin Khan (13 for 2). Fleming was out for a duck after facing only four balls.
Scott Styris began to play some shots, but, on 20, he got another jaffa from Sami which was taken by Taufeeq Umar in the slips (42 for 3). Then, on the same score, Richardson was surprised by one from Gul which he edged to Moin, after scoring 15. Cairns departed next ball (42 for 5), and then in an obvious reflection of the panic among the New Zealanders, Craig McMillan ran himself out attempting a second on Sami's arm (47 for 6). The throw beat McMillan, who had scored 2. Robbie Hart chose to not play a shot to the first ball he received, and was bowled (52 for 7).
The rot was halted by Jacob Oram and Daniel Vettori, who inched the score to 87 for 7 by tea. They added 35 runs and halted Pakistan's momentum - and also lengthened the demands of any run-chase. There were 37 overs left when the last session began, and the lead was 187. Vettori became Sami's fifth victim when he offered a sharp chance to Taufeeq at second slip (95 for 8). But soon after that bad light halted play, and rain set in soon to force the conclusion of the Test.
It brought to an end a match which, had it been played out over five uninterrupted days, could have been a classic. It featured fine centuries by Fleming (192) and Vettori (137 not out) for New Zealand, and Moin (137) for Pakistan. The lower orders of both sides flourished. Daryl Tuffey took a five-wicket bag for New Zealand with a big-hearted display on a largely unhelpful pitch, while Sami demonstrated the worth of outright pace on the last afternoon. The stage has been set for a riveting contest in the second Test at Wellington's Basin Reserve, which starts on Boxing Day.