Asif and Kaneria make it Pakistan's day
It's a venue that Pakistan's bowlers have enjoyed more than those from any other side over the last two decades, and they celebrated the Basin Reserve's fiftieth Test in fitting style, destroying New Zealand's top order with another clinical performance that left them superbly placed to level the series. After extending their first innings to 264, thanks largely to Kamran Akmal's enterprising 70, the bowlers immediately got down to business, exploiting the conditions and the huge flaws in the techniques of the New Zealand batsmen, bundling them out for 99 and taking their overall lead to 229 by stumps.
Save for a brief four-over period when New Zealand took the last three Pakistan wickets and a spell just before close of play, the day belonged entirely to the visitors. Mohammad Aamer did his now customary trick of taking a wicket in his first over - is he the new first-over specialist after Daryl Tuffey? - and consistently bowled in the mid-140s, Mohammad Asif operated in his usual channel around off and seamed the ball both ways, Umar Gul was the perfect first-change bowler offering New Zealand no respite, while Danish Kaneria befuddled the lower order with his bag of tricks.
While the four-pronged bowling attack gave little away, New Zealand put in yet another shambolic batting display, as their poor defensive techniques and shot selection were ruthlessly exposed. None of their batsmen came to terms with the ball seaming around in both directions, and they made it worse for themselves with some poor strokeplay. None was more guilty than Brendon McCullum, who chased his first ball - a wide one - and edged to second slip when New Zealand had already lost five wickets with little on the board.
From the moment Aamer started his first over, it was clear New Zealand would have their hands full. His fourth ball to Guptill swung back and rapped him on the pads; the next one left him, clipped the edge, and New Zealand's opening pair had failed to last the first over for the third time in three innings.
That was one of two overs Pakistan bowled before lunch and the slide continued after the break. Asif flummoxed Tim McIntosh and forced an inside edge to short leg, and should have had Daniel Flynn in similar fashion had Salman Butt not dropped a regulation catch. Ross Taylor was the only batsman to play with confidence - he raced to 30 from 40 balls, showing decisive footwork and driving confidently through the off side off the fast bowlers. His judgement failed him, though, when Gul slipped in an indipper that took the off stump after Taylor left it alone.
Peter Fulton was a walking wicket once again, shuffling indecisively to a straight and full one on the stumps, but New Zealand really crumbled after tea, going from 85 for 4 to 99 all out in the space of six overs. It's a fate that has often befallen New Zealand sides of the past against Pakistan, and this time it was Asif who started the slide. Flynn's painstaking knock ended when he was trapped in front of off by one that straightened - the review failed to save him - and when McCullum fell next ball, Asif was on a hat-trick. Vettori averted it, but was, for once, unable to lead another rearguard effort as Kaneria snuffed out the tail in a trice. More than just the three wickets he got, what would have worried Vetorri was the amount of turn he extracted from the second-day pitch.
Apart from Taylor, the one batsman who was comfortable batting on the surface was Kamran Akmal, who showed plenty of skill and aggressive intent in his 70. His 64-run stand with Gul - the largest of the innings - kept New Zealand in the field much longer than they would have liked in the opening session. Both batsmen went after the bowling, with Kamran lacing drives confidently through the covers to bring up his second half-century of the series. When New Zealand did get Rudi Koertzen to raise the finger against Kamran, the lbw decision was overturned on review, with replays suggesting it would have gone over the top of the stumps.
Throughout the day, the bounce on the track kept the bowlers interested: the last 30 minutes was a huge test for Pakistan's batsmen, with O'Brien, who bowled an inspired spell, exceeding 140 kph, peppering the batsmen with plenty of short deliveries, and getting Butt with one such delivery that had him all tangled up and gloving to Taylor in the slips.
Imran Farhat was consumed by the pace and movement too but, despite that lion-hearted effort, the story of the day remained New Zealand's abject collapse. In their last two Tests at this ground, Pakistan have had one bowler winning them the match - it was Wasim Akram in 1994 and Shoaib Akhtar in 2003. The spoils were shared this time around, but the end result could be just as emphatic for Pakistan.
S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo