At Hamilton, January 7-9, 2011. Pakistan won by ten wickets. Toss: Pakistan. Test debut: R. A. Young.
No sooner had the game threatened to come to the boil than it was over. New Zealand had reached 36 without loss shortly after tea on the third day, an overall deficit of 56, when they suffered a collapse which, even by the standards of some of their recent third- innings slumps, took some beating. All ten wickets fell for 74 inside a session, leaving Pakistan's openers to knock off the 19 needed for victory, and New Zealand coach John Wright to delve into his bag of adjectives and emerge, tactfully in the circumstances, with "unacceptable". Their captain, Vettori, was more to the point, lamenting the "sour taste" left by a "familiar batting performance in the third innings". He hardly needed to add: "Wrighty stated quite emphatically that things have to change."
The damage was done in four helter-skelter overs as New Zealand, on a Seddon Park pitch still favourable to the batsmen, slumped from 60 for two to 61 for six: Guptill top- edged to square leg as he attempted to slog-sweep a full toss; Ryder was trapped in front first ball by a late inswinger from Wahab Riaz; Taylor, going for a risky single, was beaten by Misbah-ul-Haq's direct hit from the covers; and Williamson, in his first home Test, looped a catch to second slip via his pad. The rest did not last long either as Umar Gul, Abdur Rehman and Riaz all finished with three wickets. Only Martin's long-awaited, gallows-humour milestone of 100 Test runs - achieved, in his 87th innings, when he cover-drove Gul for three to earn a standing ovation - cheered up the locals.
The prospect of a home win had appeared more promising after New Zealand, who handed a Test debut to 31-year-old wicketkeeper Reece Young - picked in place of Gareth Hopkins while McCullum continued as a specialist opener - overcame the early loss of McIntosh. A lunch-time platform of 78 for one had potential, and McCullum emerged after the break in one of his aggressive moods, launching Gul over long-off, then pulling him for six more - only for a fierce cut next ball to fly straight to backward point. With the left-arm spinner Rehman snarling his burly fingers round the middle of the innings, New Zealand were reliant on an eighth-wicket stand of 84 between the youngsters Williamson and Southee to reach respectability.
Martin, aided by a superb catch at second slip from McIntosh, removed Mohammad Hafeez with the fourth ball of Pakistan's reply. And although Taufeeq Umar, recently recalled after a four-year absence, compiled his first Test fifty since October 2003 - a curious affair in which his first 35 runs came off 33 balls, his next 19 off 71 - Pakistan were tottering at 107 for four after Younis Khan's leading edge provided Arnel with a return catch. But Asad Shafiq, playing only his second Test innings, kept Misbah company in a painstaking, match-turning stand of 149 that occupied nearly 60 overs, before Adnan Akmal and the tail - assisted by some slipshod New Zealand catching - ensured a first- innings lead of 92.
Beginning their second innings shortly before 3 p.m. on the third afternoon, New Zealand still harboured hopes of a come-from-behind victory. But Rehman - brought on as early as the tenth over - was extracting more turn than Vettori, who had looked out of sorts and exhausted on the second day, and soon lured the previously strokeless McIntosh down the track. McCullum was unlucky to be given out caught behind down the leg side off his thigh pad, but the procession that followed had nothing to do with misfortune and everything to do with misapplication. Pakistan, by contrast, fielded 11 determined cricketers: not bad for a team deprived of three star names following the Lord's spot-fixing scandal.
Man of the Match: Abdur Rehman.
Close of play: First day, New Zealand 260-7 (Williamson 44, Southee 56); Second day, Pakistan 235-4 (Misbah-ul-Haq 50, Asad Shafiq 74).
Don Cameron is a writer based in New Zealand