A late afternoon washout has denied the BLACKCAPS the chance of securing their first ever victory at McLean Park, Napier, after the side made a belter of a start to the final innings run chase in the third Test.
When the rain came in at around 5.30pm the BLACKCAPS were 90 without loss, with opener BJ Watling, in his debut Test, on 60 – and well on their way to overhauling the target of 208.
The drawn match meant the National Bank series between the BLACKCAPS and Pakistan was also a draw, with the sides having taken a win each from the first two Tests.
Captain Daniel Vettori said the team was disappointed at the missed opportunity, but happy with their performance today.
“We’re pleased that we fought long and hard enough to give ourselves a chance this afternoon,” he said.
“To still need six wickets this morning was always going to be a tough ask, but we did it really well. And the way that BJ (Watling) and Tim McIntosh had set us up it looked like if we’d continued we had a chance of winning.”
Going into the day with Pakistan at 347/4, the BLACKCAPS were pressed home their slender advantage in the early session.
With Umar Akmal batting solidly Pakistan added a further 74 runs, but the BLACKCAPS maintained pressure and captured three valuable wickets including Mohammed Amer right on the lunch break.
Pakistan’s resistance faltered in the afternoon and within an hour after lunch, the BLACKCAPS had cleaned up the Pakistan tail, the side all out for 455.
Southee, O’Brien and Vettori finished with two wickets apiece but the best bowling came from the unlikely arm of part-time spinner Martin Guptill. He dismissed last man Mohammed Asif to finish with a return of 3/37.
Vettori said the series had been an even, competitive contest. “If you look at the first Test both teams thought they had a chance,” he said. “We were outplayed in the second Test match, and here we probably had the momentum in our favour on a tough deck.
“We were happy with a number of aspects. A couple of guys stood up over the course of this Test match – Tim McIntosh in the first innings and BJ in the second.
“The seam bowlers were fantastic throughout the series – we couldn’t really ask for too much more.”
Day 4: BLACKCAPS have slim advantage
It was a hard slog for the BLACKCAPS bowling attack who toiled away on the flat McLean Park wicket as the Pakistan batsman worked hard to save the Test.
Only four wickets fell on a slow fourth day but all is not lost with Pakistan losing a couple of late wickets to give the BLACKCAPS a glimmer of hope.
Unlikely wicket taker Martin Guptill provided a double break through this morning to get rid of openers, Imran Farhat (61) and Salman Butt (66) within 25 minutes.
Speaking at the end of the days play Guptill said, "I was only told about five minutes before we went out. I bowled a couple of overs last night and was a little bit nervous there, but once I got the first couple out of the way I was alright.
"I’d like to say I’d done them in the air but that’s probably not the case.
"I’m pretty stoked to get two wickets in Test cricket – I’m just really happy.” Guptill said.
Pakistan comfortably negotiated the rest of the session to be 192 for two at lunch with Mohammad Yousuf and Faisal Iqbal kicking on in the middle session, knocking off the 248 run deficit.
Rain intervened temporarily and enabled the BLACKCAPS to regroup with Chris Martin provided an important break through on the stroke of tea, removing Iqbal for 67.
Another rain break late in the day worked in the BLACKCAPS favour with Iain O’Brien sneering the dangerous Yousuf for 89 to have the tourists 333 for four.
"They batted very well. We bowled well as well, they just counteracted with good batting.
"We can definitely still win this Test. They’re 100 ahead – put another couple of wickets on it, and they’re right under the pump” Guptill said.
Pakistan will resume tomorrow on 347 for four with a 99 run lead.
Day 3: Big batting day leaves honours even at Napier
A productive first session with the bat for the BLACKCAPS was answered by a solid opening partnership from Pakistan, leaving honours even at the end of day three of the Napier Test.
A highlight for the home side was Daryl Tuffeys’s 80 not out – his highest ever score in Test cricket.
Starting the day on 346/6 the BLACKCAPS batted throughout the first session, with Daniel Vettori building on his 100 not out overnight to go through to 134.
Tuffey took over once the captain departed, and dominated the Pakistan attack, batting with assurance and aggression before running out of partners soon after the lunch break. The BLACKCAPS finished all out for 471 – a lead of 248.
Pakistan spinner Danish Kaneria mopped up the tail to finish with outstanding figures of seven for 168.
Pakistan openers Imran Farhat and Salman Butt came out on a flattening Napier deck and proceeded to bat with determination, taking their side through to 128 without loss at stumps – cutting the deficit to 120. Both batsmen picked up half-centuries along the way.
Tuffey said the partnerships between Vettori and Brendon McCullum, and his own partnership with the captain, had helped swing the game in the BLACKCAPS’ favour.
“That was definitely what we wanted to do – keep taking it away from Pakistan, and get that first innings lead,” said Tuffey.
The medium pace bowler was especially pleased with his batting result today. “I’ve always known I can occupy the crease. I’ve probably let myself down in the past and have underperformed. You always want to get better – I’ve worked hard in the nets and it paid off, which is very pleasing.”
Tuffey said the team is confident there’s still a good chance of forcing a victory, but it will take hard work.
“Obviously it’s pretty flat out there now, and we’ve got some hard work ahead tomorrow. But if we are disciplined and get the ball in the right area hopefully we can get some breakthroughs tomorrow.”
Day 2: Vettori century caps good day for BLACKCAPS
An unbeaten century from Daniel Vettori and a sparkling sixth-wicket stand with Brendon McCullum has taken the BLACKCAPS to a strong position at the end of day two in the second Test at Napier.
The BLACKCAPS finished the day on 346/6 with Vettori 100 not out – a confident knock from 126 balls which included nine fours and a six. Daryl Tuffey was also not out on 13.
Earlier, Vettori and McCullum added 176 for the sixth wicket – a record against Pakistan. McCullum’s 89 came from 103 balls and included 11 fours and a six.
The pair had come together with the scoreboard slightly shaky at 145/5 but quickly got on top of the Pakistan attack and scored freely throughout the final session, matching each other run for run.
The partnership meant the BLACKAPS will go into day three with a lead of 123, with four wickets in hand and three full days of cricket ahead.
Earlier in the day opener Tim McIntosh had anchored a slow but steady start to the BLACKCAPS batting effort.
McIntosh’s knock of 74, his second highest Test innings, was all patience and determination, as the BLACKCAPS grafted through the early session, adding just 41 runs and losing two wickets, including debutant BJ Watling for 18.
The middle session belonged to Pakistan as the BLACKCAPS struggled against the trickery of spinner Danish Kaneria, who finished the day with 4 for 119.
McIntosh said he was pleased to have a good score under his belt, after feeling some pressure ahead of the test, and spending a lot of time working on his game.
“It’s been feeling pretty good – I felt like I’ve been hitting it pretty well,” said McIntosh. “The first 20 or 30 balls are probably the toughest because you’re trying to find out what the ball’s doing – so I think I got into some pretty good positions.
“It was disappointing not to go on and get three figures, when I felt very comfortable and I don’t think I played and missed at one ball.”
McIntosh said the team had taken a lot of confidence from the sixth wicket partnership and was looking to build on that on day three.
“It’s a very happy unit at the moment. We’ll be looking to bat on tomorrow for as long as we can and see what sort of lead we can get, and put them under some pressure.”
Day 1: O’Brien fires for BLACKCAPS
The BLACKCAPS have the edge at the end of day one after dismissing Pakistan for 223 and then putting on an unbeaten 47 runs partnership for the first wicket at McLean Park in Napier.
It was a superb effort by the BLACKCAPS bowling attack on a McLean Park wicket that is widely considered a batsman’s paradise.
Pace bowler Iain O’Brien delivered a devastating spell that had ripped through the Pakistan top order. He had opener Faisal Iqbal out for six before sending Mohammad Yousuf, Umar Akmal and Misbah-ul-Haq back to the pavilion without scoring to finish with figures of four for 45.
Keen to make an impact in his final Test for the BLACKCAPS O'Brien said, “Today, bowling first on a pretty good deck, to bowl a few maidens and take a couple of wickets was a great start to hopefully a pretty cool test. I’m just in a good place at the moment.
"It was certainly going through my head – this is the first day of my last test. That definitely was part of my thoughts. But – get the first ball out of the way, then it’s always the second ball that’s the messy one for me, so get the second ball out of the way, and just keep going.
“I forgot about that reasonably quickly, but it was still ticking over. I was pretty keen to get five and make that part of my last test.
“To bowl a team out for just over 200 was a great result for us bowlers."
Fellow seam bowler Daryl Tuffey was also in good form, mopping up the final four wickets to finish with four for 52.
Opening batsman Imran Farhat was the star of the batting line up, rescuing the team from of 59 for 5, and carrying his bat through the inning to finish on 117 not out.
Farhat was supported by the lower order with Kamran Akmal (22), Mohammad Aamer (23) , Umar Gul(24) who lifted Pakistan to a total that looked unachievable earlier in the day.
The Pakistani bowlers couldn’t penetrate the defence of openers Tim McIntosh (31) or BJ Watling (13) who comfortably saw out the last 19 overs to finish the day with 176 behind.