New Zealand v Pakistan, 1st Test, Dunedin, 5th day

Bond and O'Brien outdo Umar's heroics

The Bulletin by Sidharth Monga

November 28, 2009

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New Zealand 429 (Vettori 99, Taylor 94, McCullum 78, Asif 4-108) and 153 (Taylor 59, Asif 4-43, Gul 3-41) beat Pakistan 332 (Umar Akmal 129, Kamran Akmal 82, Bond 5-107) and 218 (Umar Akmal 75, Bond 3-46, O'Brien 3-63) by 32 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out


Umar Akmal steadied Pakistan after early wickets, New Zealand v Pakistan, 1st Test, Dunedin, 5th day, November 28, 2009
Umar Akmal stood between New Zealand and victory for close to two sessions © Getty Images
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Umar Akmal was seven years old when Shane Bond made his first-class debut. Twelve years later they met - Bond returning to Test cricket after a two-year exile, and Umar playing his first Test - and tried their darnedest to lead their teams to victory in one of the best Tests of 2009. In the end the 34-year-old fast bowler ended the 19-year-old batsman's dream and set up New Zealand's first win in more than a year.

With Pakistan chasing 251, Umar came in to bat at 24 for 3, and belied a man making his debut. Having already scored a counterattacking century in the first innings, he stood between New Zealand and victory for close to two sessions before Bond came up with one last desperate piece of brilliance. Walking back with his team 56 away from victory, Umar could not belie a broken heart.

Pakistan started the final session needing 86 runs with five wickets in hand and both the Akmals in the middle. Kamran knocked off three quick boundaries and it started to look like an easy home stretch before Bond and Iain O'Brien, reversing the ball appreciably, dried up the runs. During a eight-over spell, Bond kept taking the ball away from the batsmen and beat them outside off. In the sixth over of that spell, he brought one in to Umar, one of the few that came in, and latched onto his second caught-and-bowled of the match.

O'Brien, having endured an ordinary Test and playing almost for his place, had an equal part in the turnaround. He followed up Umar's wicket with those of Kamran, with a sharp in-ducker, and Umar Gul. Three wickets had fallen for eight runs, and Pakistan still needed 48 runs and there were 24 overs to survive.

The last three batsmen fought determinedly for nine overs, but the difficult task was made harder by smart bowling from Daniel Vettori, O'Brien and Chris Martin.

It was Martin who had started New Zealand's first comeback, in the middle session. Umar and Mohammad Yousuf had serenely added 71 for the fourth wicket, Bond's second spell had been seen off without trouble, and New Zealand were on the defensive and waiting for mistakes. Then Martin bowled a ripper out of nowhere. From short of a length, the ball kicked up and jagged in towards Yousuf, who did everything right - took his head out of the way and dropped his wrists - but the ball tailed in and kissed the glove.

By then Umar had reached 40 and was playing a completely different innings from his first. This half-century was no runaway blitz; he was a man who seemed to have grown years in age over the last two days. In the first innings, Umar didn't have time to contemplate consequences. This time Vettori gave him all the time in the world to think. Evidently smarting from the first innings, Vettori looked to play on the kid's patience and temperament. There was a deep point in place soon as he walked out. The support seamers bowled length and didn't go looking desperately for wickets. When Vettori brought himself on just before lunch, he bowled with five men on the boundary, just giving away free singles.

Umar wasn't fazed by this ploy to dry up the boundaries. By lunch, quietly but surely he moved to 15 off 62 balls. Bond came back post lunch for another dig. For the first time Umar was challenged to go for the pull, the shot that scarred all the three seamers in the first innings. This time he weighed in the situation, and started ducking into them. Bond couldn't find the pace of the first innings, and Umar just waited for him to finish his spell, by which time both batsmen had sauntered into their 40s.

There was brief drama between Yousuf's wicket and Umar's. An uneasy partnership between Umar and Shoaib Malik kept the game on the edge. Malik scratched around for six runs, but by then Umar had become the 14th batsman to score a century and a fifty on debut. Vettori looked innocuous at that time, and went to Grant Elliott.

Elliott came within one clean grab of being a truly inspirational bowling change. In his first over, he dropped an easy offering from Malik, after which a floodgate opened. Malik drove handsomely and guided purposefully through the third-man area. Vettori came back and started bowling over the wicket to Umar. Forty-three runs came in the next 8.5 overs before O'Brien produced a lifter that followed Malik and took an edge, in the last over before tea.

The hard work that New Zealand had to put in for the last seven wickets was in complete contrast to how easily the first five wickets fell in the morning session. Gul took out the last two New Zealanders for just six runs. And Khurram Manzoor, Imran Farhat and Fawad Alam showed they were too loose to form the top order of a Test side.

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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