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January 15, 2011
Stumps New Zealand 246 for 6 (Taylor 78, Gul 2-53, Tanvir 2-63) v Pakistan
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Pakistan's seamers punctuated spells of ordinariness with sparks of brilliance to dismantle New Zealand's top order and put their side ahead at stumps. Umar Gul and Tanvir Ahmed were lethal in the first hours of the first two sessions, and though Ross Taylor survived their bursts with a mix of caution and enterprise, the home batsmen suffered from a general lack of confidence that prevented them from counterattacking when the bowlers were on song, and from dominating when they weren't.
Gul began Pakistan's dominance with a new-ball spell that oozed intent from the outset. Resisting the natural urge to crank up the pace when aided by a breeze, he relied on subtle sleight of hand and a high release to probe away at the top order. In the first over, he got a swerving inducker to strike Brendon McCullum - who was not offering a shot - above the knee roll. Umpire Daryl Harper ruled in Gul's favour, though replays suggested the bounce was taking it over the stumps. Things were evened out in Gul's next over, when Martin Guptill edged a legcutter on its way to Adnan Akmal, unnoticed by Harper.
That delivery set the template for Gul, who relentlessly pinged uncomfortable lengths on and around off stump, serving up the odd legcutter to go with ones that held their line, carrying through at good height. In his seventh over, he nailed Kane Williamson with a carbon copy of the delivery that Guptill had edged.
Gul also threatened to dislodge Taylor early, beating his outside edge and inducing an inside edge within the batsman's first three deliveries. His opening burst was, however, coming to an end, and Taylor faced fewer challenges thereafter and approached the pre-lunch session with refreshing freedom. Every time Wahab Riaz offered width, Taylor attacked through the off side, driving square and through the covers, and cutting for boundaries.
Consigned to the Scoreboard End, Abdur Rehman resorted to a quick arm and flat trajectory while bowling into a wind that stiffened to 70kmh by lunch. Taylor settled down after the initial flourish and, along with a cautious Guptill, promised to push New Zealand ahead in the second session. Tanvir, however, had plans of his own.
Tanvir had an infuriatingly inconsistent day that was bookended by listless spells into the wind, with both new balls. In the middle session, though, he whistled in from the Vance End at the mid-130s, settling into a miserly rhythm that accentuated the threat of the occasional away-seamer. Guptill was gradually choked for runs and, after playing 12 successive dot balls, he flashed at one well outside off. Jesse Ryder came and went, nicking a ball that was dangled across him, bagging his second successive first-ball duck. James Franklin kept out the hat-trick ball, a scorching yorker that was aimed at the toes but, at 100 for 4, the force was with Pakistan.
Taylor spent most of Tanvir's rampant spell at the non-striker's end, facing only five deliveries from the seamer in the hour following lunch. His battles were against Rehman's teasing line of attack, straightening deliveries from leg stump without offering too much flight, while getting extra bounce. taylor attempted to disperse the crouching in-fielders with a lovely loft for six over wide long-on, and forced two men back on the leg side. However, with wickets falling at the other end, Rehman continued to attack with slip and short leg, and Taylor played within himself unless presented with a bad ball. When Rehman was marginally off-line, he glanced and cut for boundaries, and brought up his half-century by slapping Gul through point for three. As was the case with Tanvir, Gul too metamorphosed at the lunch break and posed no problems through the rest of the day.
Franklin sealed an end with compact defence, camping on the back foot, and keeping out a barrage of searching length deliveries that were angled across him. Along with Taylor, he seemed to have taken the sting out of the Pakistan attack, and when he creamed Tanvir for two early boundaries post tea, New Zealand's fightback seemed set to step up a gear.
Adnan Akmal shifted the momentum back in Pakistan's favour, though, with the best of his five catches in the day. He moved quickly to his right and showed admirable hand-eye coordination to grab a thin edge from Franklin. Riaz took the big wicket, after plodding through the day without courting the extremes like his seaming colleagues did. Returning to the attack for a final fling before the new ball became due, Riaz got Taylor to nick a harmless delivery angling across him and Adnan - scarcely reminiscent of his butter-fingered brother Kamran - pouched another one with elan, diving to his right.
Wind interruptions, and a shocking lack of urgency, meant that Pakistan were well behind the over-rates, forcing Rehman to operate for longer than they would have desired. Thus ensued a period of attrition, with both sides too encumbered to challenge the status quo. Vettori used the opportunity to play himself in, cutting and pulling Rehman for easy boundaries. Young was solid in defence, blocking his way to 7 off 59 balls, before opening up against the second new ball that leaked 36 runs in eight overs. Tanvir was visibly out of steam by now, and was duly taken for 21 in two overs as New Zealand ended the day with a flourish. The fact that they still finished a distant second, underlined just how far they had allowed an average attack dictate proceedings.
Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala