The contrasting fortunes of the two captains told the story of the final day as Pakistan won their first test cricket series since 2006 and New Zealand ended the summer without a test victory for the first time in 15 seasons.
New Zealand failed to gain traction against an unblinking Pakistan team on the fifth and final day of the second test at the Basin Reserve, Pakistan easing to a draw and a 1-0 series win after a 10-wicket victory in the first test at Hamilton.
When stumps were pulled they were 226 for five chasing 274 for victory, captain Misbah-ul-Haq surviving more than five hours at the crease and facing 227 balls for an unbeaten 70, a stoic innings that may not have been pretty but one he will remember for a long time.
The odds swung heavily in New Zealand's favour after they captured three wickets in the first hour today, but Misbah and senior pro Younis Khan, who made 81, combined to frustrate the New Zealanders for three hours in a 118-run fourth-wicket stand that essentially sealed the series. They also put on 142 runs together in the first innings.
Asad Shafiq joined his skipper for the final session with 114 runs required to win from 32.2 overs, but a draw was as good as a win for the tourists and they did more than enough to earn it.
Shafiq fell leg before wicket to New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori for 24, but by then only eight overs remained and hope had faded for the hosts.
Vettori will be putting his feet up tonight reflecting on a four-wicket haul in Pakistan's first innings, a brilliant knock of 110 in New Zealand's first turn at bat, but ultimately a disappointing final day when it was set up for him to bowl his country to a rare test victory.
He created some concern for the batsmen in the morning, and could easily have had Khan leg before wicket without scoring, but he was unable to penetrate on a pitch offering some turn and ended the day with one for 57 from 34 overs.
New Zealand simply lacked the firepower and appeared to run out of ideas, highlighted by the fact that Martin Guptill and Jesse Ryder bowled five overs of offspin between them this afternoon.
It all began so well for the hosts, too, Chris Martin moving through to 199 test wickets as New Zealand enjoyed early success in the morning session.
Tim Southee struck with his first ball of the day, when he trapped Taufeeq Umar leg before wicket for a duck, before Martin wound into gear as Pakistan went to lunch at 81 for three.
Martin claimed his 198th test wicket when he had Azhar Ali leg before wicket for 10, and Mohammad Hafeez was on his way for 32 before the first hour was up when he edged Martin to Ross Taylor at first slip.
That left Pakistan in dire straights at 42 for three, but Khan and Misbah saw them through to lunch without further damage.
Southee found the edge of Khan's bat on the last ball before tea but the wicket was inconsequential, the draw securing Pakistan their first series win since beating the West Indies 2-0 in 2006.
All even going into the final day
One of the most fascinating cricket days of recent home summers looms tomorrow and it will take a brave person to pick a result as the BLACKCAPS and Pakistan head into the fifth and final day of the second test at the Basin Reserve here virtually all square.
New Zealand were dismissed on the stroke of stumps today for 293 in their second innings, setting Pakistan 274 to win from a minimum 90 overs.
The hosts could have been in a much stronger position to call the shots had it not been for a dynamic late spell from paceman Umar Gul, but the match is nonetheless evenly poised.
The hosts lost their last five wickets for 25 runs as Gul ripped through the tail with some devastating reverse swing fast bowling despite No 11 and batting bunny Chris Martin at one point denying him a hat-trick with an inside edge to a straight delivery.
Pakistan, who lead the two-test series 1-0, would have been more than happy with their day's efforts as they seek a first series win since 2006, but New Zealand, too, will have few issues with their position.
Resuming this morning at nine without loss, New Zealand needed to force the issue in an attempt to square the series and they made the perfect start, reaching lunch at 106 without loss as Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill notched just their country's second 100-run opening partnership at test level since 2004.
Just as they were poised to up the ante, however, Pakistan dismissed McCullum for 64 and then employed wily tactics to restrict the hosts' progress.
Pakistan's over rate was poor, while they employed ring fields and deep fielders to stem the flow of runs, and left-arm quick Wahab Riaz effectively used the short-pitched bowling tactic.
The upshot of it all meant New Zealand found runscoring difficult, and even more so when they lost four wickets for 42 runs either side of the tea break.
Ross Taylor, who scored 52, his second half-century of the match, and wicketkeeper Reece Young, who made 20, steadied the ship with a 60-run partnership for the sixth wicket, but they were unable to put the foot down because they knew any more wickets would have seen them in danger of being bowled out too cheaply.
Both players were dismissed in the final 30 minutes before stumps, which triggered the Gul-inspired collapse as the paceman finished with four for 61.
Left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman and part-time offspinner Mohammad Hafeez were the earlier standouts for Pakistan, taking three and two wickets, respectively, on a pitch accepting some turn.
Rehman wheeled down 39 overs for his return of three for 119, nabbing the vital wickets of McCullum from a miscued shot which carried to long off, Guptill, leg before wicket for 73 after a four-hour stay, and Young.
Hafeez was the surprise package and his performance would have given spinner Daniel Vettori, who took four wickets in Pakistan's first innings, some hope for tomorrow.
He got the odd ball to turn viciously and claimed the scalps of top-order batsmen Jesse Ryder for 17 and James Franklin for 11.
Coming off consecutive first-ball ducks, Ryder looked good in his short stay but imploded first ball after a 24-minute rain delay when he meekly shouldered arms to a straight ball from Hafeez and was bowled.
Franklin edged to first slip after his feet went nowhere, leaving Hafeez, the opening batsmen, with two for 35 from 14 overs.
Pakistan were sloppy in the field, however, with five dropped catches and 13 no balls. Guptill was the beneficiary on three occasions, on 34, 44, and 54, while McCullum had a life on 26 and Young was dropped without scoring.
The forecast tomorrow is for early rain to clear in the morning, meaning all three results are very much in play.
Vettori leads from the front
There are few certainties with the BLACKCAPS but a gambler would have backed Daniel Vettori to stand up when his team needed him most, and so the captain did on the second day of the second test against Pakistan at the Basin Reserve here today.
Mr Reliable had not been so with the bat in recent times but, when his team needed a contribution to stay in the test series, he produced a classic Vettori innings of 110 as the hosts posted 356 in their first dig.
Pakistan are 134 for two in reply and still comfortable but without Vettori's knock, his sixth test century and third against Pakistan, New Zealand's chances of squaring the two-test series would have been all but gone by now.
Resuming today on 38, the captain passed 50 for the first time from 10 innings -- he had averaged just 14.56 from his nine previous knocks at test level -- and completely snapped out of a lean patch by soldiering on to a fourth test century in the past two years with a typically Vettori innings.
He was strong off the back foot, particularly backward of point, and he pushed down the ground nicely in a brilliant, chanceless rearguard action after the top order had let him down.
He had a few nervous moments, however, as he was on 96 when No 11 and noted tail-ender Chris Martin walked to the crease.
Martin did his job admirably, though, surviving four balls before Vettori, in his 104th test for New Zealand, brought up his ton with a single to fine leg.
He was last man out, caught on the midwicket boundary by Misbah-ul-Haq off the spinner, Abdur Rehman, after a 166-ball knock which included 10 fours and a six.
"I suppose people correlate form and runs, and if you haven't got the runs then you're out of form, but I think I've felt relatively good the whole way through, it just hasn't worked for me in the last four test matches, which is disappointing because I set pretty high standards," Vettori said.
Pakistan's reply started badly when Tim Southee had Mohammad Hafeez caught behind for two but Azhar Ali (62 not out) and Taufeeq Umar (70) steered the tourists out of trouble before Vettori pounced, claiming Umar's wicket with the last ball of the day after a fine catch low at second slip by Martin Guptill.
"It was a great catch and to be able to walk off the park with them two down and with a new batsman makes things a little easier, but we've got a big first session tomorrow," Vettori said.
"I think if we could keep them to around our score, that would be great."
New Zealand's bowlers toiled hard but it seemed as though they were chiselling with blunt instruments on such a good batting surface until Vettori struck to give the hosts renewed hope.
Umar could have departed on 34 when he was caught behind by wicketkeeper Reece Young, after four juggles, from Vettori's first over, but umpire Rod Tucker missed the inside edge. It was the sixth decision over the first two days that would have been overturned had the decision review system been in play, with New Zealand ahead 4-2 in those stakes.
New Zealand resumed this morning on a knife edge at 246 for six, but Vettori and Young took their seventh-wicket partnership through to 138 before Young was dismissed for 57 just before lunch when he handed wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal his sixth catch of the innings by edging a short wide ball from Tanvir Ahmed.
In just his third test innings, Young looked comfortable off both feet during a patient 162-ball stay, though he would have been disappointed at his method of dismissal.
Pakistan battled in the field with wind gusts of up to 90kmh, and they missed left-arm quick Wahab Riaz, who left the field feeling unwell. Rehman did most of the hard yards into the northerly gusts and completed his job superbly, ending with two for 96 from 45.1 overs.
Paceman Umar Gul finished with the best figures of the innings, four for 87 from 32 overs, while Ahmed ended with three for 93 from 25 as both right-armers worked hard in tough conditions.
BLACKCAPS made to work hard on day one
There was a eerie sense of deja vu as New Zealand crept through to 246 for six at stumps, having won the toss and elected to bat this morning.
As was the case with the first test, the hosts got through their trickiest time for batting to be 80 for two at lunch, but things unravelled in the afternoon and it is now left up to the lower order to score heavily tomorrow morning, an all too familiar position for the world's eighth-ranked test team.
Wicketkeeper Reece Young, who is on 28, and captain Daniel Vettori, on 38, offered hope with a fighting stand and both look in good nick, but aside from their unbeaten 66-run partnership for the seventh wicket, the only positive to emerge for New Zealand was Ross Taylor's return to the runscoring circle with 78.
The 26-year-old had passed 30 just once in his previous eight test innings but he dug in today before flashing at a wide ball from Wahab Riaz, the first delivery of a new spell, to hand wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal his fifth catch.
Taylor mixed doggedness with the odd show of positive intent in an innings that lasted a tick over four hours, achieving his highest score since 138 against Australia at Hamilton last March and his 11th test half century, though he would have been disappointed that his hard work was undone by a loose shot.
The tourists were again impressive, the pace attack asking consistent questions in what were trying conditions with wind gusts of up to 85kmh, while left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman plugged away into the wind with good effect.
Akmal can be pleased with his day at the office, too, starring with five catches, though, by his standards, he was sloppy in other areas and conceded seven byes.
Opening bowlers Umar Gul and Tanvir Ahmed did most of the damage for Pakistan.
Gul trapped Brendon McCullum leg before wicket for two in the first over of the day, and on the stroke of drinks in the morning session had Kane Williamson caught behind for 21.
McCullum shouldered arms to the sixth ball of the day and was given out by Australian umpire Daryl Harper for two. The ball nipped back sharply off the seam and looked out to the naked eye, though television replays showed it was going over the top of middle stump.
Gul ended the day with two for 53 while Ahmed claimed two for 63 after taking wickets from successive balls soon after lunch to reduce the hosts to 98 for four.
He first had Martin Guptill caught behind by Akmal for 29, the opener's innings coming to an end after 97 balls with a bottom edge to a short wide ball.
Jesse Ryder followed next ball for a duck, his second first-ball duck in two innings, when he fiddled outside off.
James Franklin replaced opener Tim McIntosh in the only change for the hosts but batted at No 6, with Guptill promoted from No 3 and Williamson from No 5 to first drop. Franklin looked at ease in his first test since April 2009 but he was strangled out down the leg side by Rehman for 33 after two hours and 10 minutes at the crease.
Earlier, the tourists went with the same 11 that obliterated New Zealand inside three days at Hamilton to take a 1-0 lead into this match.