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December 13, 2009
New Zealand are getting used to substantial scores from their No. 8 batsman. Their usual contributor at that position, Daniel Vettori, had moved up the order and Daryl Tuffey stepped up to ensure his team did not miss the batsman they dropped in order to play five bowlers in Napier. Tuffey had a best of 35 before this match and he more than doubled that to lead New Zealand to a commanding position in the deciding Test.
"I've always known I can occupy the crease. I've probably let myself down in the past, underperformed and underachieved," Tuffey said after his 80 led New Zealand to 471 in the first innings. "Like Dan [Vettori] you always want to get better and better. I've been practicing hard on my batting over the last couple of weeks. I was disappointed with my performance down in Wellington, I wanted to rectify that."
Tuffey was unbeaten on 76 at lunch - he was "a little bit excited" - and the possibility of a maiden first-class century drew nearer during a 62-run partnership with Iain O'Brien for the ninth wicket. O'Brien, however, was stumped and three balls later Chris Martin recorded his 28th Test duck, leaving Tuffey stranded on 80.
"A century would have been nice but I'm pretty happy with how I stuck with it and didn't give my wicket away today," Tuffey said. "I worked hard in the nets and it kind of paid off."
The day, however, began to go downhill for New Zealand when Pakistan began their second innings. New Zealand's fast bowlers couldn't replicate their first-innings success and Pakistan's openers, Salman Butt and Imran Farhat, batted with more caution. Their unbroken 128-run partnership cut New Zealand's 248-run lead by more than half.
"The games in the balance at the moment," Tuffey said. "They've still got a job to do, the [Pakistan] batsmen. We need a big first session tomorrow and then I think it will start playing out after that. We have to get stuck in.
"It's going to take some hard work and disciplined bowling. It's obviously a very good batting surface now but in saying that, once you get three wickets hopefully we can keep chipping some out then who knows?"
Tuffey was one of several New Zealand players who had their international careers ended or interrupted because of their involvement with the unofficial ICL in India. He said he didn't think he'd make a Test comeback this soon.
"It's funny how things have worked out," Tuffey said. "I'm glad I'm back. I'm really enjoying the environment. Playing a Test match at home again is really pleasing and to get some wickets in the first innings and some runs."
Meanwhile in the Pakistan camp, the coach Intikhab Alam believes his team has enough time to bat New Zealand out of the game.
"You can never tell in this game. We have to make sure we erase the deficit," Intikhab said. "There's a lot of time left in this match. There's no venom left in this pitch. If you are sensible and show a lot of patience I think you can survive on this wicket."
Intikhab added that wrist spinners like Danish Kaneria, who took 7 for 168, have the best chance of succeeding on this pitch. "Kaneria was exceptional. The only spinner who can get anything out of it (the pitch) is a wrist spinner really," Intikhab said. "If he gets a bit of bounce and turn on the fifth day it could get more interesting."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.