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Pakistan Seek Payback As Batsmen Thrive

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By Chris Barclay of NZPA

Napier, Dec 13 NZPA - It was payback time for Pakistan in the third cricket test against New Zealand today as they traded sloppy fielding for stubborn batting in a bid to take a home win out of the equation here at McLean Park.

After being condemned to field for 139 overs following an unsubstantial first innings on Friday, Pakistan are now intent on occupying the crease at least until the final day on Tuesday after conceding a 248-run deficit.

At stumps on the third day Pakistan had accomplished phase one of that plan as openers Imran Farhat and Salman Butt piled on 128 runs from 56 overs.

Farhat, unbeaten on 117 at the end of Pakistan's first innings of 223, had 55 from 167 balls while Butt was on 66, his seventh test half-century.

Pakistan's batting in the series so far suggests a long-term innings could be ambitious although, as New Zealand proved in amassing 471, the Napier pitch is a batsman's paradise.

New Zealand, and especially Iain O'Brien, created havoc on the opening morning but since Pakistan flopped to 51 for five the batsmen have reasserted their dominance, even if Pakistani legspinner Danish Kaneria's 53 overs of toil were rewarded with figures of seven for 168.

Kaneria was easily the most threatening Pakistani bowler, relegating the pace trio of Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Aamer and Umar Gul to secondary roles.

A wearing pitch might offer the only opportunity of a series win for either side, meaning Kaneria's influence is not necessarily over.

New Zealand's hopes will inevitably rest on the fragile left shoulder of Daniel Vettori. The spinner was in action in the 16th over and by stumps had none for 16 from 15 accurate, unthreatening overs.

Vettori's earlier 134 from 186 deliveries with the bat was the standout contribution although Daryl Tuffey stole some of his thunder with a career-best unbeaten 80, his maiden test half-century.

Before the pace bowler was unfortunate to be left stranded 20 runs short of his first century, Vettori provided another reminder of his value regardless of which batting role he designates himself.

His third century of the year came from No 6, the genuine allrounder's position, and one he may consider retaining for upcoming series against Bangladesh and Australia.

The captain shared a potentially match-turning 176-run stand with Brendon McCullum yesterday, then Tuffey emerged to form an unlikely batting alliance today as Pakistan's catching woes resurfaced.

Vettori and Tuffey, inheriting the captain's usual berth at No 8, added 87 for the seventh wicket as Pakistan's catching woes were compounded by umpiring deficiencies.

Outside of Umar Akmal's outstanding acrobatic grab at extra cover to end Vettori's innings, Pakistan's fielding was again substandard.

Tuffey was offered lives on 14, 16 and 71, O'Brien was dropped on eight, and Chris Martin a ball before he registered his 28th test duck.

Tuffey, who brought up his 50 with his fifth boundary from 88 balls, also had a reprieve on 63 when he appeared a clear candidate for leg before wicket to Kaneria.

South African umpire Rudi Koertzen detected a non-existent edge and because Mohammad Yousuf had already used two unsuccessful challenges under the umpire decision review system, third official Simon Taufel was unable to intervene.

Pakistan wasted their challenges early in Brendon McCullum's 89 yesterday, and Kaneria was also unlucky when a confident appeal against Vettori was turned down by West Indian Billy Doctrove.

Vettori only added another run but Tuffey continued to prosper -- and had O'Brien and Martin been able to keep Kaneria at bay he might have become the second New Zealand centurymaker of the series.

Resuming on 13, the tall right-hander looked a class act in cracking eight boundaries and a brace of sixes.

In the opening session he cruised past his previous highest test score of 35, against Pakistan in Hamilton during their last visit here six years ago.

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