Monday, January 3, 2011

Misbah shines but Pakistanis stumble

New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori, who was rested for the Twenty20 series against Pakistan, picked up three wickets on the second day of the tour game against the Pakistanis, who were struggling in Whangarei despite captain Misbah-ul-Haq's unbeaten 99. New Zealand, who ended the first day on a comfortable 342 for 4, collapsed to 384 all out on the second morning. Fast bowlers Umar Gul and Sohail Tanvir, who shared seven wickets between them, ran through the New Zealand middle and lower order as New Zealand lost 6 for 42.
The Pakistani innings got off to a disastrous start as Chris Martin's early burst left them reeling at 22 for 3 after seven overs. Mohammad Hafeez was the first to go, caught behind off Martin in the first over before Taufeeq Umar was dismissed similarly in Martin's next over. Younis Khan soon followed, also caught behind for 7.
At 39 for 4, when Azhar Ali was trapped lbw by Trent Boult, a familiar Pakistani batting collapse looked imminent but it was avoided through Misbah's efforts. He had a solid first Test series as captain, scoring three-half-centuries in two matches against South Africa and he continued to be in good touch. He and Asad Shafiq steadied the innings with a 52-run fourth-wicket partnership before Shafiq was dismissed by Vettori.
That brought wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal to the crease, who played positively, hitting seven boundaries in his 31-ball 35. His partnership of 57 with Misbah carried Pakistan to 148 before he was dismissed by James Franklin. Misbah also received good support from Abdur Rehman (20) and Umar Gul (24), as the Pakistani lower order showed some fight. Vettori dismissed both Rehman and Gul and Pakistan ended the day on 234 for 8, still trailing New Zealand by 150 runs with Misbah unbeaten on 99.
The first Test between Pakistan and New Zealand begins in Hamilton on January 7 and while the visitors will be pleased at how their bowlers bounced back on the second day, the indifferent form of their batting will be a worry.

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