At University Oval, Dunedin, November 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 2009. New Zealand won by 32 runs. Toss: Pakistan. Test debut: Umar Akmal.
During the match, a magazine profile of Daniel Vettori quoted him as saying that one of his goals in Test cricket was to have New Zealand's batsmen score enough runs to bowl opposing sides out on the fifth afternoon of a match. Little did he realise what lay ahead in this immensely entertaining Test.
From the very first ball, with which Mohammad Aamer bowled McIntosh, there was always something happening on a pitch offering assistance to bowlers prepared to work hard. What looked like becoming a typical New Zealand top-order collapse was stemmed initially by Guptill and Taylor, who added 117 for the third wicket. But as so often it took Vettori, batting nearly four hours before he was caught behind for 99, and McCullum, who was reprieved by third umpire Rudi Koertzen after Simon Taufel gave him lbw to Mohammad Asif in the first day's final over, to provide what proved a match-winning advantage. They shared a seventh-wicket stand of 164, and New Zealand batted throughout the first two days (the second cut to 36 overs by rain) for a first-innings total of 429.
It was Asif's consistent line, on or around off stump, that most troubled the batsmen, especially those lacking the technique to keep him out. He collected four wickets, and was delighted with how quickly he fitted back into Test cricket after serving a suspension for drugs offences. Pakistan paid the price for dreadful catching lapses, however - something they could not shake off throughout the match.
They were not immune from batting problems, either. Martin made the early breakthroughs, removing both openers, before the long-awaited return of Shane Bond bore fruit in his second spell. Not long after lunch on day three, he unleashed a burst of three wickets in ten balls. Mohammad Yousuf, like him a rehabilitated Indian Cricket League player, was his first victim, offering a low caught and bowled chance which the hungry Bond snaffled with ease. Yousuf said afterwards that Bond was one of the most difficult bowlers he had faced.
Pakistan's recovery was led by 19-year-old Umar Akmal, who seemed completely unaffected by the circumstances. He hit his first ball in Test cricket to the third-man boundary and went on to become the 11th Pakistani to reach a century on debut - and the second in five months, after Fawad Alam. A disregard for convention allowed him to race to his hundred by taking four, six and four in four balls from O'Brien. His older brother Kamran was evidently overwhelmed by emotion, as he fell to Vettori in the next over after they had added 176 in three hours. Vettori quickly brought Bond back, and he removed the younger Akmal on the way to his fifth five-wicket bag in Tests. But Umar's 129, from 160 balls in 219 minutes with 21 fours and two sixes, was the innings of the series.
New Zealand's runs in the bank proved vital, as they collapsed again in the third innings; only Taylor's fifty showed the desire necessary to ensure Pakistan were set a tough chase. Asif took four wickets again as the home side were all out for 153 early on the last morning. As a result of the overs added on to compensate for bad light and rain on the previous three days, Pakistan had 91 overs to score 251.
Bond was soon among the top order as they slumped to 24 for three, but Yousuf and Umar Akmal, who batted another 222 minutes for 75 and revealed a defensive quality as impressive as his earlier attacking efforts, rebuilt the innings. Martin eventually separated them, getting the ball to lift sharply on Yousuf, who edged behind. As long as Umar was at the crease, however, Pakistan's hopes were alive. It was Bond who got him again, caught and bowled, to make it 195 for six. Two runs later, O'Brien exposed the tail when he trapped Kamran lbw. Vettori had his wish when he claimed the last two wickets. An exciting final day had ended in victory for New Zealand with 15 overs to spare.
Bond, who claimed eight for 153 in the match and bowled with undiminished speed, said: "It was a perfect comeback - this is the way you want to play Test cricket. It was the first time I had bowled with only four bowlers. I just wanted to bowl well and take wickets." Sadly, it was to be his Test swansong.
Man of the Match: S. E. Bond.
Close of play: First day, New Zealand 276-6 (McCullum 25, Vettori 40); Second day, New Zealand 404-8 (Bond 8, O'Brien 2); Third day, Pakistan 307-8 (Mohammad Aamer 12, Mohammad Asif 0); Fourth day, New Zealand 147-8 (Elliott 20, O'Brien 4).