New Zealand remained in full command during the first day and a half's batting in the 2nd Test of the National Bank series against Pakistan at the Jade Stadium, Christchurch. They literally dictated terms to the opponents, ending the 1st innings with a massive total of 476 runs. The performance indicated a magical recovery by a side that surrendered 9 of its wickets for only 26 runs in the 1st test at Auckland. With a splendid double ton (204 not out) Mathew Sinclair emerged as a hero among the resurgent Black Caps. Facing such a mountainous total, Pakistan looked under tremendous pressure.
Enticed by the deceptive presence of grass on the track and putting his full faith in reading of the pitch and the forecast, that it will initially help the pace bowlers, skipper Moin Khan put the Black Caps into bat after winning the toss. He, in fact, did not expect them to put up such a challenging performance. His decision to field first, as such, did not work well. In the backdrop of a historical collapse in the 1st test, the home team's first day score of 285 for 5 was a remarkable comeback. With the team having regained the lost confidence and Sinclair going great guns with a fabulous 100, the team was, however, destined for a big total.
The opening partnership of 102 runs between Mark Richardson (46) and Mathew Bell (75) laid a solid foundation for the innings, courtesy Younis Khan who dropped Bell at the 2nd slip when he was at 8. The batsman, somehow, did not feel comfortable against speedster Mohammad Sami, receiving a lot of body blows from him, but regained his confidence after surviving a vital chance.
Pakistan's hopes of an early break through on the 2nd morning (March 16) were also foiled, when Sinclair continued smashing all type of bowling. Wicket keeper Adam Parore provided him a commendable stand by staying at the crease for 136 minutes for his 46 useful runs.
Despite a fair amount of grass on the pitch, the pace bowlers could not extract much of a life out of it. Mohammed Sami, who devastated the Black Caps to emerge as Man of the Match at Auckland, remained wicketless despite all the toil and hard work. He conceded 107 runs in 36 overs that he bowled. The other pair of speedsters Waqar Younis and young Fazal-e-Akbar, along with off spinner Saqlain Mushtaq, shared 3 wickets each.
With a highly precious double hundred following his two previous centuries in test cricket Mathew Sinclair raised his team from despondency to cheers. During his 520-minute stay at the crease he remained in full command, defying all the tricks played by the Pakistani bowlers. The score piled up with the help of 27 fours and 2 sixes showed his complete mastery over both pace as well as spin.
With a mammoth total of 476 runs, the Black Caps are sitting pretty while Pakistan is under tremendous pressure. In contrast to the dire need of a strong hold on the wicket, Pakistan took a disastrous start by losing their 1st wicket with only 5 runs on the board. It was Imran Farhat a youngster with great promise, who lost his wicket on a horrible shot after scoring only 4 runs.
All hopes of building up the innings now rested on Ijaz Ahmed, a veteran of 58 tests called up to reinforce the team. Having joined the team after a lay off of almost a year, Ijaz was not in his usual brighter self. He was once bowled off a no ball followed by throwing away his wicket through an abnormal act of hit wicket. While attempting a shot on the back foot, he moved rather too far back to knock the stump with his heel.
Pakistan ended the day with 65 runs for the loss of 2 wickets. Faisal Iqbal (22) and Inzamam-ul-Haq (26) were at the crease. They have a difficult task of saving the match, which can only be accomplished if the batsmen succeed in securing the crease by playing long innings. Their hopes mainly rest on Inzamam, Youhana and Younis.