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Showers Wash Away Series Dream

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Showers Wash Away Series Dream

By Chris Barclay of NZPA

Napier, Dec 15 NZPA - Rain dissolved any prospect of an enthralling climax to the final session of a closely fought test cricket series at McLean Park here today, leaving New Zealand and Pakistan to ponder what might have been.

The third test succumbed to the first serious weather intervention, with play being abandoned at 6.34pm (local time) to leave New Zealand's well-paced pursuit of 208 for victory 118 runs short and the series shared at 1-1.

The closeness of the two sides was also evident during last month's limited overs series in the United Arab Emirates where New Zealand won the one-dayers 2-1 and Pakistan the Twenty20s 2-0.

Openers BJ Watling and Tim McIntosh retreated to the dressing room at 5.34pm, 20 minutes after light showers arrived when they had scored 90 without loss from 19 overs, a rate in keeping with a successful pursuit.

Once Pakistan were dismissed in their second innings for 455, New Zealand had 43 overs to achieve their first series victory against a major test playing nation since the West Indies were beaten here in March, 2006.

Playing their first test together as a combination, Watling and McIntosh had New Zealand's first 100-stand by an opening pair in 43 tests in their sights.

Stephen Fleming and Mark Richardson were the last duo to lead off with three figures, 163 against England at Trent Bridge in 2004.

Today's liaison was the best effort since that test while Watling had the added satisfaction of recording a half-century on test debut.

He balanced McIntosh's patient 23 from 54 balls by cracking 60 off 62 deliveries, a spree studded with one six and nine fours.

Once Martin Guptill's magic arm struck with the second ball off his fourth spell to end Pakistan's second innings in the second session, New Zealand were the only realistic winners once Watling got into gear.

Guptill removed Pakistan's openers in short order yesterday, and tailender Mohammad Asif became his third victim as he recorded figures of three for 37, the best analysis from a Pakistan innings that spanned 193.2 overs.

Pakistan resumed today on 347 for four, an overall lead of 99 runs, and reliant on Umar Akmal and elder brother Kamran to build their advantage.

Umar had a reprieve on the second ball of the day when he edged Chris Martin past wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum and first slip Ross Taylor to advance from 48 to his third half-century of his debut series with his fifth boundary.

Nineteen-year-old Umar was eventually dismissed for 77, caught by McCullum, and ended as the series' leading runscorer with 379 at an average of 63.16.

Pakistan also featured the leading wicket taker, with Mohammad Asif finishing with 19 at 19.78.

As well, they also dominated an unwanted statistic by dropping 17 catches.

Kamran Akmal was stranded on 56 not out from 121 balls at the end of the innings after being one of the few Pakistani batsmen to maintain their composure today.

Misbah-ul-Haq's ugly attempted sweep to Daniel Vettori gifted the captain his first wicket of the test in his 40th over when McCullum pulled off a smart stumping. Mohammad Aamer was also lax in the last over before lunch when he swept Vettori to Martin in the deep to give the skipper figures of two for 93 from 56 overs.

That in itself was a sterling effort although it was his 134 in New Zealand's first innings that earned him the man-of-the-match award.

Danish Kaneria was the last self-inflicted casualty, his skied hook giving McCullum plenty of time to set a record for New Zealand wicketkeeping dismissals.

His eight catches and one stumping eclipsed the previous record of eight dismissals jointly held by Warren Lees and Ian Smith, against Sri Lanka in 1982-83 and 1990-91 respectively.

Retirement-bound paceman Iain O'Brien had a match analysis of six for 143 to give him 15 wickets for the series, New Zealand's most successful bowler.

He ended his 22-test with 73 wickets at 33.27.


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