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Farhat Backs Bowlers To Continue His Damage Control Exercise

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Napier, Dec 12 NZPA - Pakistan will be hoping Imran Farhat's crystal ball proves as reliable as his batting after New Zealand grabbed the early ascendancy in the third cricket test despite the centurion's face-saving innings at McLean Park.

Pakistan's first innings of 223 looked on the lean side at stumps yesterday after New Zealand finally constructed a meaningful opening stand -- a provisional 47 after Tim McIntosh and BJ Watling negotiated 19 overs with an ounce of luck.

Farhat's unbeaten 117 accounted for more than half his team's score - Umar Gul's 24 was the next best offering amid a scoreboard littered with four ducks.

After spending 64.3 overs in the middle, Farhat was as qualified as any batsmen to speculate whether 223 might be a defendable total.

The opener's prediction in Wellington that a first innings score in the range of 250 would be sufficient was on the money - thanks to New Zealand crumbling for 99 in reply to Pakistan's 264.

After watching 10 partners struggle to varying extents after Pakistan won the toss and batted yesterday, the 27-year-old was happy with the runs on the board.

"The batsmen are not comfortable on this pitch, they can't play so many shots," he said.

"It's difficult to stay and play your natural game."

Farhat was the sole success on day one, striking 14 boundaries and a six from 169 balls - though McIntosh was making a decent fist of his innings and resumes on 31 from 68 deliveries.

McIntosh had a reprieve on zero when his leg before wicket dismissal was overturned by the umpire decision review system, he also survived a run out scare as he and debutant Watling (13) come to terms with batting together for the first time.

Pakistan will be keen to separate the pair when plays resumes (12pmNZT) and Farhat was confident a proven bowling attack was capable of maintaining their stranglehold over New Zealand's batting unit - with the exception of Ross Taylor.

"If the bowlers take an early two or three wickets it will be all pressure on them," Farhat said.

"We have a good bowling side .... (Umar) Gul, (Mohammad) Asif and (Mohammad) Aamer can change the game any time."

Meanwhile, New Zealand's most successful bowler Iain O'Brien was rapt with his side's progress although Pakistan added 133 for their last four wickets.

"We were pretty keen on having a bat first, and to then bowl a team out for just over 200 is a great result for us bowlers," O'Brien said.

He ended with four for 35, a fine start to his final test before moving to England.

"In terms of rewards yeah, it was definitely one of my better spells," O'Brien said of his four for 15 from eight overs before lunch.

"To bowl a few maidens and take a couple of wickets was a great start to hopefully a pretty cool test. I'm just in a good place at the moment."

However, it wasn't all good news for O'Brien who learned hours before the toss his plans to shift to the UK and reunite with his wife Rosie may be slowed by red tape.

He hoped to be in England before Christmas but a departure may be months away.

"I got some pretty average news, but we'll work through that."

The right armer suggested his run in with bureaucracy might have had made him steam in a bit harder at McLean Park.

"It might have helped me push a little bit harder in the middle at the right time. Use what you can to motivate you," he said.

O'Brien had an inkling New Zealand was going to enjoy bowling first as a final pitch inspection confirmed the wicket had a higher moisture content than usual - a factor aiding the seamers.

"I don't think I've ever had a (boot) sprig go into the pitch here before," he said, explaining the wicket is traditionally rock hard to favour the batsmen.

"You tended to ice-skate on top of them for a wee while until you can get through it.

"It was nice to go and be able to just stick one (sprig) into the top of the surface -- we took advantage of it."

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