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Col (Retd) Rafi Nasim
March 9, 2001
In a start delayed by showers the Pakistan team thought to be destined for a big total, succumbed to the remote fear of a collapse. Unable to encounter a slight change in weather and the pitch with courage and ability, the two overnight batsmen Younis Khan (91*) and Faisal Iqbal (42*) put down their wickets without any addition to their scores. Missing his 3rd ton in test cricket must be tragic for young Younis Khan who was recalled to join the team after a lean patch. Both were the early victims of a penetrating spell by Daryl Tuffey.
The early exit of the two well-set batsmen eclipsed Pakistan's hopes of mounting a big 1st innings total. With the figure dipping to 294 for 8 the collapse had set in, but the invaluable 52 runs and 8th wicket partnership between skipper Moin Khan (47) in 36 balls and leggie Mushtaq Ahmed (19) prevented a total rout of the lower order batting. A struggle by the tail-enders, however, enabled Pakistan to muster a respectable score of 346. While Daryl Tuffey and Chris Martin finished with an impressive haul of 4 wickets each, James Franklin earned his first wicket in test cricket by sending Mushtaq Ahmed back to the pavilion. Pakistan batted for only 16 overs.
The Black Caps took a disastrous start losing the opening pair of Matthew Bell and Mark Richardson in the first two overs with only one run on the board. Like James Franklin it was also a day of celebration for Pakistan's Mohammad Sami who also claimed his 1st wicket in test cricket. The speedster who clocked 142 kph in his debut test clean bowled Richardson on the 5th ball of his first over.
Skipper Stephen Fleming (32*) and Mathew Sinclair (28*), however, managed to stem the rot and raised the score to 65 for 2 when the play was called off for the day. With almost four hours of play lost on account of rain only 43 overs of play was possible out of which the Black Caps got 27 overs to bat. Although the two spinners Mushtaq Ahmed and Saqlain Mushtaq bowled for short spells, the speedsters Waqar Younis and Mohammad Sami shared a wicket each.
Presently the match is evenly poised. With the change of weather and its effect on the pitch, which way the game turns, time will only tell.
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