The hosts took the "wind out of Pakistan's sails" in the 21 overs on day one, said New Zealand batting coach Craig McMillan, though he remained wary of what could continue to be a tough pitch. New Zealand had moved to 77 for 2 in Hamilton after being asked to bat on a lively surface, having become increasingly confident as the morning wore on. They hit 38 runs in the six overs preceding the rain that washed out the remainder of the day's play.
"It was favourable conditions for the bowlers, so I thought the way we played took the wind out of their sails to be fair," McMillan said. "We were very positive and decisive in that first session. I thought our guys - especially Ross Taylor - were pretty harsh on any width that was offered up, and he made the most of it."
Taylor remained not out on 29 off 20 balls, cracking six boundaries - five of those behind square on the offside. It was a particularly important innings for Taylor, who has not only been in modest form, but has been troubled by a growth in his left eye over the past week.
"I thought Ross moved really well today," McMillan said. "Even the first ball that he left - sometimes he doesn't like leaving the ball. I thought his decision-making was excellent. Sometimes he got some short wide ones. We know how well he enjoys playing the cut shot, so it was perfect really."
Opener Jeet Raval continued his bright start in Test cricket, finishing 35 not out off 63 balls. He had been dropped at first slip by Sami Aslam in the first over, but was largely secure against the right-arm bowlers, though Mohammad Amir continued to trouble him through the session.
"He looked really good today. Always helps when you get dropped in the first over. I thought it was a quality first over from Mohammad Amir where he asked some serious questions from the left-handers," McMillan said. "But Jeet just showed a composure that we've seen from him at the level below. It's nice that you can see him take that step up and see that composure again. It's what we've come to expect and what we know about him.
"Really the key for any Test opener is the decision making. The good thing about this Pakistan bowling attack is that they ask a lot of questions. We know we have to be precise in the decisions we make at the top of the order in seamer-friendly conditions. I think he's shown the ability to do that, and it's been great to see."
McMillan expected the pitch to be just as tough upon resumption on day two because it will have been "sweating under the covers". Nevertheless, he said New Zealand had been surprised by Pakistan's omission of Yasir Shah. The visitors chose four quicks instead, perhaps swayed by the colour of the Hamilton surface, and the wet forecast over the first three days.
"Yasir is a world-class bowler, so it's good for us, I think," he said. "If the game goes along to five days, you'd think that days four and five, a spinner might be needed and will come into calculations. They've decided that he wasn't needed and they went for the extra fast bowler. We've got Mitchell Santner on our side, so we've got pretty much all bases covered."