Mohammad Asif enjoying New Zealand sojourn
Mohammad Asif, Man of the Match for his nine wickets, has said he enjoyed bowling in New Zealand and felt he was getting back into the rhythm after missing Test cricket for nearly two years.
After his incisive display on day four, Asif recalled the last time he took 17 wickets in two Tests, in Sri Lanka in 2006. "I had two great Tests against Sri Lanka and now it's same situation here," Asif said. "The last match [in Dunedin where he took eight wickets] was fifty-fifty, not being decided till the last hour."
While the team had planned attacks for different New Zealand batsmen, Asif believed in an age-old and simple fast bowler's mantra - just bowl to the stumps and pitch the ball in the right areas. "We watched videos of New Zealand batsmen, discussed which side they like to play, what weaknesses they have," he said.
However, Asif said the out-of-form New Zealand batsmen did not look nervous when facing up to him and Mohammad Aamer. New Zealand were bowled out for 99 in the first innings in Wellington and apart from Ross Taylor, the top-order batsmen have looked out of depth. "I think they batted well. Taylor got 97, Daniel Vettori scored 99 in the previous game and Brendon McCullum also got a half-century," he said. "Being in or out of form is part of the game. But facing the new ball in New Zealand is difficult."
Pakistan's captain Mohammad Yousuf also stressed that the pitch was not easy to bat on. Though they won emphatically, bowling New Zealand 141 runs short of the target, Pakistan will be concerned about the number of catches they dropped in the match. They dropped six in the second innings alone: Yousuf dropped Peter Fulton on 2, Misbah-ul-haq dropped Taylor on 13, Umar Gul dropped McCullum on 13, Shoaib Malik dropped two in succession - Iain O'Brien and Daniel Vettori - and then Danish Kaneria dropped one of his own bowling when he failed to take a Vettori top edge.
Yousuf felt that while the players were no doubt concerned, it had been very difficult to hold on to catches in the cold conditions. "The ball is moving around and because of the wind it is difficult to catch. I feel everyone tried hard and we are still working on our fielding," he said.
The serie decider in Napier is expected to be played on a flat pitch but Yousuf said he would wait until he had inspected the pitch before deciding whether or not to go with two spinners.