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The Bulletin by Sidharth Monga
November 27, 2009
New Zealand 429 and 147 for 8 (Taylor 59, Asif 4-41, Aamer 2-29) lead Pakistan 332 (Umar 129, Kamran Akmal 82, Bond 5-107, Martin 3-63) by 244 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out
Skillful, rousing bowling from Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif evoked New Zealand's famous second-innings collapses against Pakistan, and almost neutralised the disadvantage of a 97-run first-innings deficit. Pakistan held all the momentum after a dramatic fourth day, which featured swing, reverse-swing, cutters, two wickets for no run, the last six for 53, drama over reviews, rain, and bad light. New Zealand began the day looking to give themselves enough time to take 10 second-innings wickets. By the end of it they were thankful that time was actually lost.
During the third innings, the Test seemed reminiscent of the Basin Reserve affair in 2003-04, when New Zealand squandered a 170-run first-innings lead by collapsing from 95 for 3 to 103 all out. But this one was different: Pakistan came back not through blinding momentum and sheer pace, but by planning and persisting. Aamer bowled two superb spells of swing bowling, the conventional variety getting the first two wickets, and the reverse leaving the middle order befuddled. Asif took 2 for 2 in his spell before tea, following it up with two more after the break.
Pakistan also improved in previously slack areas: fielding and reviews. Khurram Manzoor hit the only stump he could see from square leg and ran out Ross Taylor, the only man who looked like he could score runs. Asif successfully challenged an lbw decision to dismiss Tim McIntosh, and nearly got another against Grant Elliott overturned in unique circumstances. New Zealand were 113 for 5 when a reversing delivery caught Elliott in front, but Asif couldn't get the decision from Billy Doctrove. The replays revealed a marginal no-ball. It appeared a minute part of his heel had landed behind the line and then slid onto it, but third umpire Rudi Koertzen thought otherwise.
If this was unique, Peter Fulton - low on form and confidence - enacted the bizarre. Suspecting an inside edge when given lbw off Umar Gul, he walked back unimpressed, holding his bat upside-down, but was reminded of the existence of reviews by his team-mates only when he was about to cross the rope.
Fulton was the fourth man out, with the score on 91, minutes after Taylor's attempt at arresting the all-too-familiar slide ended in a misunderstanding. Yes, no, yes, no, and he was run out for 59 out of the 87 runs scored until then. He was edgy, uncomfortable, and fortunate at times but still battled and scored quickly. Playing and missing against Aamer, getting hit twice on the body, edging to short of slip twice, Taylor even resorted to slogging Gul out of the ground. But just when he looked comfortable in the middle, having passed 50 off 69 balls, the run-out happened.
That doesn't take away, though, from the quality of bowling on display. Martin Guptill, on a warmer, stiller day, kept McIntosh - on a king pair - away from Aamer and took strike. But because it was warmer, Aamer got the ball to swing for the first time in the match. Four balls into the innings, New Zealand were 0 for 1 for the second time, the ball swinging in enough to take the inside edge onto the stumps. Daniel Flynn continued his horror Test - eight runs and a crucial dropped catch in the first innings - when he played across the line to a straight delivery, and was caught dead in front.
After the wickets of Taylor and Fulton, Aamer came back for a spell of reverse-swing that brought back memories of Wasim Akram. From round the wicket he angled the ball into Elliott, and got it to move away. Repeatedly. And not just by fluke. McIntosh, who avoided the pair but didn't care much about scoring, survived twice by shouldering arms to deliveries that jagged back in. After a spell of 4-2-2-0 from Aamer, Asif took over and did that extra bit to get the wickets.
The ball that got McIntosh pitched just within the stumps and straightened a touch, and the confidence and awareness showed in how Asif called for the review. Moments after the Elliott review fiasco, he ended Brendon McCullum's painstaking stay with a beauty, pitching one short of a length, just outside off, and getting it to move away a touch. Rain, then, was a relief for New Zealand who had scored just eight runs in their last 13 overs.
Rain and bad light continued to frustrate Pakistan for the rest of the day, but there were two brief spells of play and they took a wicket in each. In the first, Asif dismissed the dangerous Daniel Vettori. After an offcutter took an edge and was dropped in the slips by Umar Akmal, Vettori whipped one straight to midwicket. How the game treats people differently. Flynn and Imran Farhat were still ruing their dropped catches, but Umar was relieved in just one delivery's time.
Another offcutter after the break and Shane Bond looked to move his bat out of the way, the ball followed, and the inside edge cannoned into the stumps. Another glance at the light meter, and the umpires relieved the tailenders of their torment.