Teams share spoils on opening day
by Jinu Sabastian

Ground:University Oval, Dunedin
Scorecard:New Zealand v Pakistan
Player:MJ Guptill, LRPL Taylor
Event:Pakistan in New Zealand 2009/10

DateLine: 24th November 2009


The day's play swung to and forth in almost every session as both the teams traded punches and counter-punches regularly. If Pakistan struck first New Zealand on the back of half-centuries from Guptill and Taylor stabilized the innings. Pakistan came back strongly to claim a cluster of wickets before Vettori and McCullum stalled the Pakistani bowlers by putting up a defiant 65 runs to balance out the day's play.


Mohammad Yousuf won the toss and elected to bowl first on a pitch that had luxurious smattering of grass coupled with overcast conditions. In short he had the perfect conditions to unleash a talented set of pacers on unsuspecting Kiwi batsmen and his opening bowlers did not disappoint. Aamer continued to rise in stature as he delivered the perfect yorker first up to McIntosh who found his leg stump rattled. Mohammad Asif returning after the ban imposed on him struggled a bit as he struggled to find the rhythm and perfect length and Guptill took advantage of this as he counterattacked. Searching for swing Asif over pitched on a couple of occasions on either side of the wicket which Guptill duly send packing to the boundary fence. Soon the overcast conditions gave way to sunny conditions and whatever swing was there disappeared forcing the two pacers to shorten their length. Asif began to settle into his rhythm and soon had Flynn inside edging one through to the keeper leaving New Zealand precariously placed at 27 for 2. The talented Gul joined the bowling duties and though he didn’t get much seam movement, he made it difficult for the batsmen by giving them hardly anything to score. His six overs went for one run as he mixed up his lengths beautifully as he kept both Taylor and Guptill guessing. Gul managed to draw Guptill forward to edge a fuller length, but Imran Farhat dropped it at first slip. Five runs later Gul dropped Guptill at the fine-leg boundary, off a top-edge off Aamer. Taylor and Guptill survived the pacers onslaught as they took the New Zealanders to lunch without much damage.


The pair slowly but steadily began to find their feet and the first signs of aggression came when Taylor slog-swept Ajmal for a huge six over deep midwicket. Guptill then proceeded to bring up his maiden fifty with a scorching cover-drive in the same over as Pakistan began to release the pressure. Taylor pressed the accelerator as he crashed Gul for three boundaries to get his game going and soon Yousuf was running out of ideas. The pair rarely looked in any sort of discomfort and Taylor who resembled a stroke-less wonder in the first session was now running away with the game as he too reached his fifty run mark. The pair added 117 in 42.5 overs a they blunted the Pakistani bowlers effectively before Aamer ended the stand when he persuaded Guptill to play a loose pull shot to end his innings. Fulton who was included in the Test squad on the back of some impressive performance in the domestic circuit looked out of his depth as he struggled with the pace and movement that Aamer was able to generate as he was constantly caught immobile in the crease.


The pair took their time and patiently added 48 runs in 13.3 overs to frustrate the Pakistani team. Fulton never looked comfortable in the middle but the tall right-hander was determined to fight out in the middle. Taylor meanwhile got into his nineties with a couple of boundaries and just when he had his sights on his fifth Test century a Ajmal coaxed Taylor to drive at a perfectly pitched doosra which he edged to Farhat at first slip to be dismissed for 94. Pakistan fought back as Asif cleaned up Fulton and then got Elliot to edge one through to the keeper to reduce New Zealand to 211 for 6 to swing the day’s play in Pakistan’s favour. Vettori joined McCullum and did what he is now expected and that is t stabilize the innings. McCullum surprisingly went into his shell but Vettori with his usual nudges and jabs got the scoring going. Vettori slowly began to expand his repertoire of shots as he made sure that the scoring did not stagnate.


With the new ball available Yousuf did not waste time as he immediately took it but the bowlers failed to make the full use of it as they sprayed it around. The pair added 65 runs in 16.5 overs to end the day but not before McCullum had the benefit of the umpire review system. On the penultimate ball of the innings Asif had won a leg before appeal from Taufel when he trapped McCullum but the batsmen went for the review and got the appeal upturned much to Pakistan’s dismay.