NZ v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Wellington, 2nd day December 27, 2003

Oram leads New Zealand fightback

Close Pakistan 52 for 2 trail New Zealand 366 (Oram 97, Richardson 82; Shoaib 5-48) by 314 runs

Jacob Oram: fell just three short of his maiden Test hundred

New Zealand took two quick wickets to ensure that they maintained the momentum they had gained with their batting effort against Pakistan in the second Test at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. After scoring 366, they had Pakistan struggling at 52 for 2 at stumps, still trailing by 314 runs.

New Zealand benefited from two innings by Mark Richardson (82) and Jacob Oram (97) that were deserving of centuries, but were denied by momentary, but fatal, lapses in concentration. Richardson, who was immovable for all but the last ball of his innings, batted for a phenomenal 439 minutes. But disappointing as his dismissal may have been for him - he slapped a wide ball from Shabbir Ahmed to Yousuf Youhana at point - there was no doubting the value of his innings, as it allowed Oram and Daniel Vettori to plunder the tiring Pakistan attack, of which Shoaib Akhtar was the best, taking 5 for 48.

Richardson got out just before lunch in the extended morning session of 150 minutes. New Zealand added only 101 runs in that time for the loss of Richardson and, earlier, Robbie Hart (19), who played a leg-glance off Shoaib Akhtar that was picked up at leg gully after 20 runs had been added to the overnight score (171 for 6).

But just before Richardson's dismissal, Oram had upped the scoring rate, getting down the wicket to the legspin of Danish Kaneria and lofting him for runs. With Richardson, he added 76 for the seventh wicket, in the process scoring the second half-century of his career.

After the break, the Pakistan attack lost its fire. Shabbir bowled a long spell with the wind and was guilty of feeding Vettori's strength, bowling repeatedly outside off. Meanwhile Oram continued to attack Kaneria, hitting him through the off side with little difficulty. He used his height and reach well, and was out against the run of play, playing a lazy drive off the back foot and edging a ball from Shabbir to Moin Khan (327 for 8). Oram may have missed out on his maiden Test century, but he demonstrated most emphatically that he could step into Chris Cairns's shoes as a quality allrounder.

Shoaib Akhtar: a triumphant return from injury

Akhtar finished with a five-for although he could not claim to have been overbowled. The more onerous workhorse duties fell on Mohammad Sami, Shabbir and Kaneria. They bowled more than 30 overs each, while the lack of use of Abdul Razzaq, who bowled 18 overs into the wind yesterday, was understandable. Shabbir took 3 for 87 from his 37 overs.

Not satisfied with his batting effort, Oram returned to dismiss Imran Farhat, caught by Hart for 20 (27 for 1). Ian Butler bowled with fire, and while he was not as quick as Shoaib, his pace caused problems for Taufeeq Umar, who was hit on the helmet while trying to avoid a bouncer.

Yasir Hameed wasn't comfortable against Butler either, especially as the bowler found sideways movement from the pitch. Butler soon nailed him for 3 with one that nipped back from outside off (30 for 2). New Zealand missed an opportunity to get a late wicket when, Hart missed a chance from Youhana off Daryl Tuffey.