New Zealand v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Wellington, 4th day

New Zealand marginally ahead after riveting day

The Report by Nitin Sundar

January 18, 2011

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New Zealand 356 (Vettori 110, Taylor 78, Gul 4-87) and 293 (Guptill 73, McCullum 64, Gul 4-61) lead Pakistan 376 (Misbah 99, Younis 73, Martin 4-91, Vettori 4-100) by 273 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details


Martin Guptill drives solidly down the ground, New Zealand v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Wellington, 4th day, January 18, 2011
Martin Guptill adopted different approaches in each of the first two sessions to work his way to 73 © Getty Images
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The Basin Reserve Test sparked into life on a fourth day filled with twists, turns and momentum shifts, as one side inadvertently pushed the other to swap game-plans several times. Pakistan began with unimaginative bowling at unacceptable over-rates, spread-out fields, and sloppy fielding. New Zealand cashed in, with their openers adding 120 enterprising runs, before Pakistan's spinners rallied to reduce them to 208 for 5. For the second time in the match, though, Ross Taylor responded with a composed innings to help his side recover despite an inspired sortie from Umar Gul before stumps.

With 273 to defend, New Zealand will begin as favourites on the last day, but Pakistan can take heart from the fact that seven years ago, they successfully chased the same target at this very ground. If they fall short, they will have their lacklustre start to the day to blame, a period when Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill were allowed to dictate terms.

Pakistan's fast bowlers came out without intent, spraying the ball around and gifting easy boundaries as McCullum and Guptill settled in before Abdur Rehman came on. Rehman attacked the rough with a slip, silly point and short leg, with Adnan Akmal imploring him to bowl the 'magic ball'. One forceful shot from Guptill, a crunched back-foot cover drive, was enough for silly point to be removed. An over later, the magic ball came, stopping and turning sharply from leg stump to take Guptill's edge before landing in the now vacant silly-point region. Pakistan had paid for their lack of proactivity.

McCullum's eagerness to dominate was counterbalanced by the state of the match and New Zealand's recent batting woes. Rehman tossed them up, inviting the drive over mid-off, with men waiting close in for the edge. McCullum resisted, lunging forward to the flight, and working the odd arm-ball off the back foot to the leg side. Rehman almost broke through, getting McCullum to prod with hard hands, but Asad Shafiq dropped the chance, again at silly point. McCullum ran down the track to the next ball and clattered a flat six over long-off, before pulling a short ball for four more. Pakistan's best bowler had been negated, with some luck, but he was not done for the day.

Worried by the opening session, Pakistan came out with a plan in the second. Gul harried Guptill with bounce and movement, clunking his helmet with a bouncer in the first over after the break, and getting him to edge a legcutter in his second, but Adnan spilled the opportunity. Guptill altered his approach, hanging back in the crease, but resisting the impulse to pull.

Rehman eventually found a way past McCullum, luring him to miscue to long-off after beating him in the flight. The run-rate dropped and Pakistan finally found their voice as Guptill got into a tangle against some well-directed bouncers from Wahab Riaz, the biggest culprit in the day's no-ball stakes. Guptill barely survived the spell and then attacked Rehman, slicing an off-drive past a diving Tanvir Ahmed at mid-off, and teeing off down the ground for six. Rehman was not to be denied, though, and he eventually pinned Guptill in front with a skidder, an over after Kane Williamson had perished to an ungainly drive against Tanvir.

Jesse Ryder avoided a third successive first-ball duck but was bowled by Mohammad Hafeez off the first ball following a brief rain interruption. New Zealand suddenly were in strife, at what was effectively 172 for 4. For a brief while, Hafeez transformed into Muttiah Muralitharan, producing a few unplayable deliveries that had New Zealand befuddled and Pakistan worried. Taylor survived one that turned in a mile, and James Franklin wasn't good enough to edge another than turned across him and jumped over his stumps. He didn't last long, nicking Hafeez to Younis Khan at slip before Shafiq dropped another crucial chance, lunging late from short leg as Reece Young poked nervously.

Having taken a close look at Hafeez's fare, Taylor dug deep to reverse the momentum once again. He negated the spinners with assured feet, late shots and soft hands, frustrating them into drifting onto his legs. When they did, he moved his front pad decisively across to flick and sweep into his favourite scoring areas. His first boundary came after 45 balls of caution, by which time his discipline had tired Rehman into errors. Hafeez also lost his sting, and Taylor asserted himself with a trademark slog-sweep over midwicket. Young held his own with a straight bat and a steady head for the second time in the game, and the 60-run stand turned the tide once again in New Zealand's favour, but the day had some more surprise in store.

Azhar Ali took a blinder close in to end Young's effort before Gul charged in with an 86-overs-old ball and resorted to his most loyal weapon - reverse swing. He struck Taylor in front with an inswinger before rearranging Daniel Vettori's stumps with a yorker. Brent Arnel came and went first ball, barely seeing a laser beam that pinged his toes. Chris Martin got the wildest applause of the day when he kept out the hat-trick ball, and Tim Southee connected with a couple of swings before Martin became Gul's fourth scalp and New Zealand were bowled out.

Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Nitin Sundar Social media manager Nitin spent his formative years perfecting the art of landing the googly, before blossoming into a book-cricket specialist. More excellence followed in the underarm version of the game before, like the majority of India's misguided youth, he started taking studies seriously. After four forgettable years of electrical engineering, followed by a rigorous MBA and 16 months in the strategy consulting industry, he began to ponder life's more profound issues. Such as the angle made by Brian Lara's bat with the horizontal at the peak of his back-lift. A move to ESPNcricinfo followed and Nitin is now a prolific nurdler in office cricket, with a questionable technique against the short ball.
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