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The Wisden Bulletin by Lynn McConnell
December 25, 2003
Close New Zealand 151 for 5 (Richardson 53*; Shoaib 3-14) v Pakistan
Shoaib Akhtar traps Stephen Fleming in front as Pakistan get off to a rousing start
Having decided to bat first, New Zealand struggled to 151 for 5 on a day in which only 71 overs were possible in the second Test against Pakistan at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. Shoaib Akhtar was the star performer for Pakistan, bowling with plenty of fire to take 3 for 14 from 11 hostile overs, but Mark Richardson retrieved the situation somewhat with a typically dogged unbeaten 53.
Coming back from a hamstring strain that kept him out of the first Test, Shoaib bowled fast enough to send at least one delivery down at 157 kmph, but he was also handled carefully by Inzamam-ul-Haq. Shoaib bowled only short spells, and that was still enough to cause all manner of problems for the New Zealanders. However, on completing his 11th over he pulled up lame and was in obvious discomfort when leaving the field.
The match started under gloomy skies, and only 2.5 overs had been bowled when the players went off for bad light. It was enough time, though, for Shoaib to create more misery for Lou Vincent (0), who was beaten by a quick delivery which crashed through his defences (1 for 1). When they returned 30 minutes after the lunch break, Shoaib trapped Stephen Fleming in front with his first ball, which was also the last of his still-to-be-completed second over.
It then became a battle for New Zealand to try and recover the situation. Richard Jones, playing his first Test, worked hard with Richardson but after scoring 16, Jones inside-edged an Abdul Razzaq delivery onto his stumps (41 for 3).
Scott Styris upped the momentum, using the straight-drive to good effect. By the tea break he had scored 25, only three less than the more stolid Richardson. Styris was on the offensive immediately after the break but a promising innings ended on 36 when Akhtar returned to the attack and bowled a fast rising ball which Styris failed to evade. The nick was easily taken by Moin Khan (94 for 4).
Styris was replaced by Craig McMillan, who shared a 51-run stand with Richardson. Richardson's patience was rewarded with the 17th half-century of his career, which took all of 262 minutes to achieve. But of the many battling, grafting innings Richardson has played for the country, it was among the most valuable. McMillan was beginning to grow in confidence when he received a controversial lbw decision from Asoka de Silva off Shabbir Ahmed. McMillan had scored 26 and television evidence showed an inside edge onto his pad (145 for 5).
Soon after, Robbie Hart, the nightwatchman, survived an appeal for caught behind off his gloves from Shoaib, a decision which upset the Pakistanis. Shoaib then bowled a short ball that struck Hart on the head. But in pushing for more pace, Akhtar strained himself and was unable to bowl the last over of the day. Richardson had been solid in defence throughout, and he will play the critical role in ensuring that New Zealand drive home the advantage of winning the toss.
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