Second Test Match

New Zealand v Pakistan

Don Cameron

At Basin Reserve, Wellington, December 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 2003. Pakistan won by seven wickets. Toss: New Zealand. Test debut: R. A. Jones.

The Second Test, like the First, produced a huge and improbable comeback - and this time there was no escape for New Zealand. Pakistan overturned a first-innings deficit of 170 to win comfortably. The fightback was sparked by a devastating spell of fast bowling by Shoaib Akhtar on the fourth morning: New Zealand lost seven wickets for eight runs, and with them the series.

Shoaib's success was tribute to the lonely hours of training he put in while recovering from a thigh problem at Hamilton. For New Zealand, Cairns was forced out through a late injury and Richard Jones, a 30-year-old from Wellington, was slotted into a recast batting order. Fleming was happy to bat first on a Basin Reserve pitch that, if not especially fast or bouncy, rewarded both batsmen and bowlers for hard work. But in murky conditions Shoaib made an immediate impact - bowling Vincent with his eighth ball and, after a long break for bad light, getting Fleming lbw with his 12th. Richardson again held firm, but no one at the other end matched his resolution. Early on the second day, New Zealand were 171 for six - with the second new ball already in the umpire's pocket.

But that only brought out New Zealand's dogged streak. Oram at last showed some batting form and Richardson was at his adhesive best until his considerable patience ran out just before lunch: his 82 lasted more than seven hours. But after the break Oram continued to use his reach well, before a lazy shot on 97, and Vettori chipped in with 44. He was helped by Inzamam-ul-Haq's odd decision to bowl the less threatening Danish Kaneria and Shabbir Ahmed for almost a whole session. New Zealand reached 366, and on the third day bolstered their position from useful to seemingly impregnable. Yousuf Youhana made a circumspect 60 before edging to slip and Pakistan's resilience went with him. With the second new ball in his hand, and a stiff Wellington northerly behind, Butler mixed full-length swing with well-directed throat balls to remove five batsmen in five overs. His final figures of six for 46 were a Test-match best. From 168 for four, Pakistan were 196 all out.

But that collapse would soon pale into insignificance. As midday approached on the fourth morning, New Zealand had a lead of 265, three wickets down and plenty of time to organise victory. Before 12.30 they were all out, having added just eight more. Richardson edged Shoaib behind, Styris was bowled by the next ball, and Tuffey was run out in the following over. Shabbir then joined in the carnage, pinning Oram and Vettori lbw, shortly before Shoaib finished the rout by bowling Hart and Butler. New Zealand had gone to pieces on a pitch without notable bounce or pace. Seldom had they encountered the incandescent fury of a bowler like Shoaib - swift run, long hair streaming, flying leap at the crease and true pace with a hint of in-swing. He took six for 30 in total and four for 16 on the day.

The New Zealanders were still dazed as Pakistan set out to score 274 for victory. Youhana and Inzamam were in control as the bowlers found none of the movement that gave Shoaib such a lethal advantage. Pakistan needed only 28 more runs at the scheduled close, but they left the field in fine weather without claiming the extra half-hour available. With an iffy forecast for the last day, Inzamam was so mortified by his mistake that he could not face breakfast the next morning.

Bad weather delayed the start, and when the players emerged they were forced off again by rain. Play restarted shortly before midday and this time Pakistan took no chances. They surged home in less than four overs, prompting a relieved Inzamam to look to the skies in thanks.

Man of the Match: Shoaib Akhtar.

© John Wisden & Co