New Zealand v Pakistan, 3rd Test, Napier, 4th day December 14, 2009

'We are in a very good position' - Faisal Iqbal

Cricinfo staff

At the end of rain and bad-light hit fourth day's play, in which Pakistan erased a deficit and eked out a 99-run lead while New Zealand managed four wickets, two key figures on either side were backing their team to claim the final day.

Faisal Iqbal, whose chancy 67 was one half of a crucial third-wicket partnership which helped Pakistan take the lead, put faith in the batsmen to follow. Martin Guptill, whose first chance to bowl in Test cricket snapped a century opening stand, believed New Zealand could dismiss Pakistan as cheaply as possible before allowing their batsmen chase down a hopefully-small total.

After the early loss of the well-set openers Imran Farhat and Salman Butt, both to the innocuous offspin of greenhorn bowler Guptill, the onus fell on Faisal and his captain Mohammad Yousuf to carry on the good work. That they did, adding 128 even though it wasn't always a convincing effort. Yousuf had a let-off when Guptill missed a run-out chance after a suicidal call for a single and Faisal was reprieved after a caught-behind decision was reviewed. Hot-spot supported on-field umpire Billy Doctrove's verdict that the noise was ball on the batsman's thigh pad.

"That was a critical partnership during that period between me and Yousuf bhai," said Faisal. "It has set a better milestone for the batsmen to come tomorrow and settle down for a long innings."

"At the moment we are in a very good position. Tomorrow is very crucial, especially in the first two hours. The way Misbah-ul-Haq and Umar [Akmal] batter before stumps showed that if they hang in their for at least two hours we can be in a good position. If we bat all day it will give a good result. It was a very good day for our team, especially [because] the batsmen did well. They put in their heart and soul and batted the whole day."

According to Guptill, New Zealand could "definitely" win this Test. "They are 100 ahead but you just put a couple wickets in early and they're under the pump," he said.

Guptill, had never bowled a ball in Test cricket and had just a solitary first-class wicket, opened the bowling and removed the openers in quick succession to leave Pakistan wobbling. It was a surprise for Guptill, who was told about five minutes before he went out that he would get the ball.

"We just needed to fill an over because Chris [Martin] wanted to come from the other end, then I got a wicket so just kept going," he said. "Once I got the first couple [overs] out of the way I was alright. I'm pretty stoked to be able to get two wickets in Test cricket. I'd like to say I just did them in the air, but that's probably not the case."