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Vettori Irked By Unhelpful Pitch

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Napier, Dec 16 NZPA - The McLean Park wicket block ended the third cricket test between New Zealand and Pakistan under covers, but there was no masking Daniel Vettori's dissatisfaction with a pitch that continues to support batsman over bowler.

Before Friday's toss turf manger Phil Stoyanoff forecast a result in the series finale on the basis both teams were stacked with "useless" batsmen - the New Zealand captain then took aim at his handiwork after rain ruined any hope of a positive outcome on the final afternoon.

New Zealand's bid for victory was thwarted by showers yesterday when the home side was well-placed at 90 without loss in pursuit of 208 with 118 required from 24 overs.

Although it proved beneficial for his team, Vettori said the ease at which openers BJ Watling and Tim McIntosh accumulated those runs indicated the pitch was too batter friendly.

"You want it to get harder and harder to bat on," he said.

"This wicket got better and better. Every time we come to Napier we probably say same thing.

"You don't want batting to be at its best on the fourth and fifth days and that's pretty much the case.

"The way we went out to bat (yesterday) showed that. You want wickets with variable bounce on fourth and fifth days," said Vettori, who had a match analysis of two for 128 from 64 overs.

McLean Park has a runs-laden reputation, yesterday's stalemate -- albeit rain-affected -- is the seventh draw in the venue's nine-test history.

Only Sri Lanka and England have managed to record wins here, in 1995 and 2008 respectively.

The wicket for this test was expected to favour the fast bowlers - a suggestion that influenced New Zealand's selection of four seam bowlers.

The opening morning was the only encouraging session for the quicks as Pakistan were reduced to 51 for five before recovering to 223 thanks to opener Imran Farhat's unbeaten 117.

New Zealand replied with 471, Sri Lanka then spent 193.2 overs turning a 248-run deficit into a 208-run lead.

Pakistan's second innings featured six half centuries, Vettori was the New Zealand's only centurion with 134 while Brendon McCullum made 89, fast bowler Daryl Tuffey an unbeaten 80 and McIntosh 74 in the home side's first innings.

Pakistan captain Mohammad Yousuf described the wicket as "lovely" to bat on after the opening morning, giving credence to Stoyanoff's damning assessment of the quality of batsmanship.

"I think we threw our wickets (away)," said Yousuf, one of four ducks in the Pakistan first innings.

In the second innings Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Aamer and Danish Kaneria all departed to unattractive slogs which could have been costly had rain not arrived.

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