New Zealand on top despite Umar's century
by Jinu Sabastian

Ground:University Oval, Dunedin
Scorecard:New Zealand v Pakistan
Player:MR Barfoot, Umar Akmal, SE Bond
Event:Pakistan in New Zealand 2009/10

DateLine: 26th November 2009


It was a day that Umar Akmal would remember for the rest of his career as he completed a superb maiden Test century in his debut Test. The youngster's innings nearly overshadowed the fact that the day's play was a perfect advertisement for Test cricket as it was an even contest between ball and bat. Bond's hostile spell put New Zealand on top in which he managed to reduce Pakistan to a miserable 85 for 5 but the Akmal brothers counterattacked brilliantly to upset New Zealand's plans. The Kiwi's then struck back by removing the Akmal brothers and at the end of the day New Zealand were leading by 122 runs.


The rain had cleared up but it was very windy when Bond and O'Brien resumed their innings on Day three. Bond got the innings underway with some good old-fashioned slogs of Asif and Gul with O'Brien joining in the fun by collecting a couple of boundaries for himself. Asif finally got rid of Bond with a lifter while Ajmal trapped Martin leg-before to give him his 26th duck in Test cricket.


There were concerns as to how the young Pakistani batsmen barring Mohammad Yousuf as to how they would fare against the Kiwi bowling attack that included the fiery Bond and those concerns proved right. Khurram Manzoor was the first to go as he played a loose cut off Martin to be castled. Farhat who was making a return to the Test squad after more than two years looked quite out of his depth as he struggled to come in terms with the quality of the Kiwi attack as Martin and Bond were able to generate pace and swing constantly. Martin finally trapped a shuffling Farhat leg before to put New Zealand on top.


Mohammad Yousuf, the only batsman with the right technique to counter such hostile conditions, did not look at ease as he struggled with his timing. After lunch Bond was given the ball and he bowled like a wind as he relished the conditions. Bond targeted the body of Yousuf and Alam as he repeatedly bowled short and fast putting the Pakistani batsmen under immense discomfort and he was well supported by O'Brien who bottled up the other end. Bond finally lured Yousuf with a pitched up delivery who pushed it back tentatively and Bond took a brilliant reflex catch to end the Pakistani captain's innings.


The hugely talented debutant Umar Akmal was the new man in and he got off the mark off the first ball off his career with a glide past gully for a boundary. Alam was the next man to to as a fiery Bond breathed fire to get some life off the deck to square up the southpaw who feathered an easy catch to McCullum. Bond continued to wreak the Pakistani batting line-up as he got Malik to inside edge on onto his stumps and the Pakistani innings was reeling at 85 for 5. Umar was joined by his elder brother Kamran in the middle and the two set about rebuilding the innings. Umar Akmal went on the offensive as he attacked the Kiwi bowling from the onset. He lifted Vettori for a massive six, got a life when Flynn at gully could not latch onto a sharp catch but that did not deter him as he cover drove a fired-up Bond through covers and then proceeded to tear apart O'Brien with three boundaries in an over. Kamran Akmal too played his part as he mixed caution with aggression as he displayed some lusty blows to support his younger brother to revive the Pakistani innings.


After tea the Akmal brothers pressed the accelerator as the duo began to put the Kiwi bowlers to the sword forcing Vettori to adopt defensive field settings. Kamran Akmal reached his fifty and soon the hundred run partnership was up. The pair then switched into cruise mode and they passed the follow-on mark. Umar Akmal went on to complete his maiden Test century in his debut match with a flurry of boundaries and the way the youngster played this Test displaying his composure and maturity he is going to be the lynch-pin in this batting line-up. Meanwhile Kamran Akmal lost his wicket as he charged down the track to loft Vettori over the top but could only edge to first slip. The brothers added 176 runs in 42.5 overs. Meanwhile Umar Akmal continued his dream run as he smashed O'Brien for three boundaries in an over which included a cover-drive of supreme quality and two fierce pull shots to remind the Kiwis that he is still out there in the centre.


Once the new ball was available Vettori did not lose much time in claiming it and handed the ball to Bond hoping that his pace spearhead would be able to make an impact. But it did not deter Akmal from going for his shots as he still managed to collect a couple of boundaries but his honeymoon at the crease was over when Bond finally managed to terminate his innings. Akmal tried to get on with the innings and tried to loft Bond over point but could only smash it down the throat of Fulton at backward point. Pakistan's unhappy marriage with umpire review system continued when Gul's review was upturned when he was trapped plumb leg before by Vettori. Pakistan then ended the day at 307 for the loss of eight wickets.