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Kaneria Could Be The Key To Series Decider

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Kaneria Could Be The Key To Series Decider

By Chris Barclay of NZPA

Napier, Dec 13 NZPA - Daniel Vettori made another crucial contribution to keeping New Zealand on the front foot -- but it is Pakistan spin rival Danish Kaneria who could have the biggest bearing on the third cricket test's outcome at McLean Park.

Pakistan coach Intikhab Alam nominated his legspinner as a key participant over the next two days - on the proviso his batsmen wipe out the remainder of a 248-run deficit before setting New Zealand a challenging fourth innings run chase.

Pakistan's openers Salman Butt and Imran Farhat reduced the shortfall to 120 at the close of day three yesterday, an indication the Hawke's Bay's heat has baked any remaining life out of the pitch for the quick men.

A centurion in New Zealand's first innings, Vettori's bowling takes precedence after the home side failed to make inroads during the 56 overs to stumps as Butt (66) and Farhat (55) produced conservative, chanceless half centuries.

Vettori's 15 overs to date have cost only 16 runs, however he would happily trade his economy rate for numbers in the wickets column.

Alam, a 47-test legspinner, doubted New Zealand's inspirational leader would be able to generate enough purchase from a pitch yet to show signs of serious wear and tear.

But Kaneria, who took seven for 168 from 53 exacting overs, was equipped to produce a repeat performance if Pakistan has enough runs in the bank.

"The only spinner who can get anything out of it (the wicket) is a wrist spinner (Kaneria)," Alam said.

"There's not much for the finger spinners (Vettori). Danish has bowled exceptionally well and he can get more bounce, a bit of turn .... on the fifth day who knows? It could be very interesting."

The success of Vettori, Daryl Tuffey and the Pakistani openers indicate the McLean Park wicket has finally reverted to type - a batsman's paradise.

Only four wickets fell yesterday -- including three New Zealand tailenders - so unless Pakistan start to implode in the opening session a third successive stalemate at the venue looms.

After watching Butt and Farhat rarely look in any discomfort while scoring at a sluggish 2.28 runs per over, Alam was confident his batsmen could give Kaneria something to bowl at on the final afternoon.

"There's still a chance we can win, there is a lot of cricket left. We have to get those (120) runs first and then we will see.

"You can never tell in this game. First we get rid of the deficit and then we'll see.

"The wicket has got a lot easier -- only the new ball does something.

"If you are sensible and show a lot of patience I think you can survive."

Butt and Farhat subscribed to that theory, thwarting Vettori's attack to such an extent Martin Guptill's spin was seen for the first time in his eight-test career in a bid to buy a wicket.

Tuffey, who added an unbeaten 80 to his four for 52 in Pakistan's first innings, agreed the batsmen were now the dominant force but New Zealand had not given up hope of recording their first test win in Napier at the ninth attempt.

"It's going to take some hard work and disciplined bowling," he said.

"Dan bowled really well (yesterday). It's obviously a very good batting surface now but in saying that, once you get one, two or three wickets hopefully we can keep chipping them out."


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