Vettori rues rain and pitch
Click here to listen to Daniel Vettori's press conference.
At the end of a 1-1 series that New Zealand can claim to have dominated slightly more than Pakistan, Daniel Vettori was pleased with the outcome yet fully aware that hard work was in order. In hindsight this was a match and series that New Zealand should have won, but after a promising opening stand the Napier weather had the final say and Vettori felt his side was unfortunate not to edge an absorbing series.
"I suppose we had an opportunity [but] the rain denied us this afternoon, so we'll look back at that with a bit of disappointment," he said. "We're pleased we fought long and hard enough to give ourselves a chance. Taking six wickets this morning was always going to be a tough ask but we did it really well. And then the way that BJ [Watling] and Tim McIntosh set us up, it looked like if we could continue that we had a good chance of winning."
There was a lot of disappointment in the home camp when the rain came, which Vettori said had not foreseen playing such a large role. "I didn't think there was ever a case for it to completely take over the game," he said. "We thought there was the possibility of a little bit but not have a washout."
Vettori said that the belief within the team this afternoon was that if they could get through the first ten overs without giving Pakistan an opportunity to break in, then the game, and consequently the series, was theirs to win. "We just needed to get a platform to build off, and just show some intent. We probably didn't do that in the first couple overs but once we got past that we really set it up. The fields were spread wide and we were able to dictate play, so if we continued that way we had a really good chance of winning."
It took New Zealand a lot to bowl Pakistan out for 455 on a Napier surface known for the amount of runs on offer. Looking back at the events of the last two days of this match, Vettori felt that different types of pitches needed to be produced to allow the bowlers be better used. "You don't want the batting to be at its best on the fourth and fifth day," he said. "The way we went out to bat this afternoon showed that and I think on Test-match wickets you want some variable bounce. On the fourth and fifth days you want it to get harder and harder to bat on, and this wicket just got better and better. Every time we've come to Napier we've probably said the same thing."
For a side that has struggled to find solidity and consistency at the start of the innings for some time - since McIntosh's debut in December 2008 this was the 17th opening pair New Zealand have used - the unbeaten 90 that was put on today was an encouraging sign. Vettori was impressed, particularly with Watling's debut performance.
"In his first Test match, to dictate play, and the momentum he took into it, that was always going to be difficult this morning but he once he settled in he really dictated play," he said. "Pleasing for a guy in his first Test to be able to do that."
Vettori termed the series as competitive, starting with the opener in Dunedin where both sides were on an equal footing when pressing for a win, to Wellington where New Zealand were outplayed, to Napier where the home side had the momentum on a difficult track to bowl on. "We're happy with it [the series] on a number of aspects, but we'll continue to look back at that first innings in Wellington as the part of the series that really let us down," he said.
New Zealand still have issues to sort out at the top. McIntosh gave his flagging career a fillip with 74 in the first innings in Napier and an unbeaten 23 in the second, but still has not entirely convinced as an opener. Martin Guptill, used as opener and No. 3, scored 88 runs in five innings. Daniel Flynn's prospects as an international top-order batsman continue to look slim after he scrapped together 62 runs in three Tests. Peter Fulton, recalled to the side for the first two matches, had a series to forget.
"There are issues but a couple of guys stood up over the course of this match. Tim McIntosh in the first innings and BJ today," said Vettori. "We still put 470 on the board so we have to look at our batting as a collective effort but there are areas of concern within out batting unit.
"I think our seam bowlers were fantastic throughout the series and you couldn't really ask for too much more. Like always, we've just got a little bit more to work on with our batting."
Vettori promoted himself to No. 6 for this match and immediately contributed with his fifth Test century, but was not willing to commit himself to that place in the future. "That depends on the make-up of the team," he said. "I still prefer to go in with six batters and four bowlers but we need a couple of those batsmen to be able to bowl. Look at the likes of a [Jesse] Ryder when he's fit and [Grant] Elliott when he's fit, they contribute a number of overs. I'm sure that will be debated with the other selectors but the option for me to go there is there, and it its needed I'll do it."