New Zealand v Pakistan, 1st Test, Dunedin, 3rd day

Shane Bond and Umar Akmal light up Test

The Bulletin by Sidharth Monga

November 26, 2009

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Pakistan 307 for 8 (Umar 129, Kamran Akmal 82, Bond 4-93, Martin 2-52) trail New Zealand 429 (Vettori 99, Taylor 94, McCullum 78, Asif 4-108) by 122 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out


Shane Bond rattled the Pakistan line-up with his fiery pace, New Zealand v Pakistan, 1st Test, Dunedin, 3rd day, November 26, 2009
Look who's back © Getty Images
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A 34-year-old fast bowler, returning to Test cricket after two years, and a 19-year-old debutant lit up Dunedin's University Oval on a windy day, at the end of which New Zealand were better placed in the first Test. Finally back in New Zealand whites, hurling that red thing in anger on a flat pitch, Shane Bond - with pure pace - rattled the Pakistan middle order during a seven-over spell of 3 for 25. In reply, Umar Akmal launched a counterattack after Pakistan were 85 for 5, impressing with his dazzling strokeplay and clear head, scoring a 160-ball 129 to help his team avoid the follow-on.

It took Bond his first spell to graduate from the early 140 km to close to 150, but during that time Chris Martin dismissed the openers, and Iain O'Brien - bowling into a stiff wind - troubled the batsmen enough to not let them settle. Umar, who nearly scored a century in boundaries alone, found support in his elder brother. Kamran Akmal was the quieter partner in the 176-run sixth-wicket stand, and missed his century by 18 runs. Nonetheless he stayed for long enough to be the first person to congratulate his younger brother on reaching a special century.

Unlike their Pakistan counterparts, New Zealand's new-ball bowlers found neither seam movement nor swing. They were helped, though, by the ordinary techniques of the top three batsmen. Martin, who had earlier got his 26th duck as New Zealand were dismissed for 429, was at the right place at the right time with the ball. First when Khurram Manzoor - his guard outside leg stump - went to cut him, ended up playing away from the body, and chopped it on. And then when Imran Farhat moved across his stumps and played down the wrong line. Nice payback for being dismissed for a sixth duck in six innings against Pakistan.

In his third over of the second session, Bond gave Mohammad Yousuf a bouncer at 151 kmph that just missed the edge, followed by a yorker at 149 and a legcutter at 144 just outside off, again just avoiding the edge. It seemed it would take something more special to dismiss Yousuf and Bond pulled that out too: diving low and forward during his follow through to take a return catch. Two balls later he gave Fawad Alam the perfect lifter, not wide of off, high enough to have him jumping, and too fast for the batsman to pull his glove out of the way.


Umar Akmal does the <i>sajda</i> after reaching fifty, New Zealand v Pakistan, 1st Test, Dunedin, 3rd day, November 26, 2009
Umar Akmal scored a thrilling century on debut © Getty Images
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Another short ball came in the next over. Shoaib Malik, semi-backing away, guided it onto his stumps: 74 for 2 had become 85 for 5. In the interim, though, Umar had cut his first ball in Tests, from Bond, for four. Then came the shot of the day. Umar would have been forgiven had he played a forward defense to this ball from Daniel Vettori, but he rocked back and pulled it over wide long-on, so clean that it almost carried for a six.

Before Bond finished his spell, he induced an edge from Umar, but it went low and fast to the left of Daniel Flynn at gully. Another sharp Bond bouncer got a top edge that fell short of the slip cordon. Those were the only blotches on Umar's innings. Kamran, duly took the back seat as Umar cut, drove, pulled, slog-swept, and punched his way to 50 off 57 balls, and consequently forced more defensive fields. Bond had rattled Pakistan during that hour, and it was Umar's turn now.

Vettori, who gave O'Brien a deserved breather after 11 consecutive and tight overs for 28 runs, appeared to be the weak link. Boundaries were hit in three of his first five overs, and the partnership was on its way. Post tea, Vettori was reduced to bowling from over the stumps and Brendon McCullum crouching outside leg.

The brothers saved the best for Bond, though. After Kamran hit him for three boundaries in two overs, Umar gave him the real treatment in the next. Three short deliveries, three pulls, left of mid-on, right of mid-on, and through midwicket, and the partnership had crossed 100. Umar had reached 72 off 91 then, and Kamran 47 off 81.

O'Brien, who had played the perfect foil to Bond and Martin, saw his day go from dream to nightmare, thanks to Umar. His second spell's first over went for three boundaries and, in his third spell, Umar reached his century in sensational manner. Three successive deliveries were pulled for four, six and four, through mid-on, wide long-on and midwicket, and Umar moved from 87 to 101, and O'Brien had gone for 70 in his last 10 overs.

Just then Kamran got reckless, stepped out to Vettori, and edged a delivery from outside leg to first slip. Umar refused to buckle down still, Bond or no Bond, new ball or no new ball, scoring 28 more off the next 27 balls he faced. With about six overs to go in the day, he got a thick outside edge to a wide Bond delivery, which carried to third man. Umar couldn't have chosen a more deserving bowler for his wicket.

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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