Cricket: Pakistan in control after second day

Azhar Ali of Pakistan pulls the ball during day two. Photo / Getty Images
Azhar Ali of Pakistan pulls the ball during day two. Photo / Getty Images

Pakistan are so often enigmatic but there was nothing at all mysterious about their approach with the bat as they attempted to grind down New Zealand's resilient attack on the second day of the first cricket test at Seddon Park here today.

Responding to New Zealand's first innings of 275, Pakistan adopted a slow and deliberate method this afternoon as they tried to wear down New Zealand's pace attack, which has done an admirable job by giving the tourists very little in hot conditions and on the flattest of wickets.

The hosts even managed to get their noses ahead for the first time in the match when Pakistan were reduced to 107 for four in the middle session, but a rearguard action from captain Misbah-ul-Haq and the diminutive frame of Asad Shafiq saw the visitors survive the final session unscathed, moving through to 235 for four at stumps.

Aside from a couple of reverse sweeps from Misbah late in the day, there was nothing flashy about the batting, but they have done enough to edge ahead after two days in what is shaping as a war of attrition after putting on 128 runs in an unbeaten fifth-wicket stand.

Shafiq ended the day on 74, his highest test score, while and Misbah is 50 not out.

"Misbah and Asad both played brilliantly and because of that we are in the driving seat right now," said Pakistan opener Taufeeq Umar, who scored 54.

"It's a paradise wicket for batsmen, but (New Zealand) bowled well and we must give them credit. Misbah, he's showing how to bat on a wicket like this and he's helping Asad out a lot.

"Our first target is above 275 and then let's see, but if Misbah and Asad keep playing like this we are looking for about a 100-run lead."

There was very little for New Zealand to get excited about in the final session today as Misbah and Shafiq added 99 runs in 35 overs, though captain Daniel Vettori, who is battling with an illness, had a good shout for leg before against Shafiq and, in the same over, an even better one for a stumping after some neat work by Reece Young. Both were turned down.

New Zealand's effort with the ball cannot be faulted but they will need early wickets tomorrow with the new ball due at the start of play.

Pace bowlers Chris Martin and Brent Arnel produced top post-lunch spells in testing conditions as New Zealand claimed three wickets for just 69 runs in the session, with honours then even.

Martin, with two for 67, and Arnel (two for 53) were demanding and able to get the odd bit of movement off the pitch to trouble the Pakistani batsmen. They were well supported by Tim Southee, who bowled well without luck, while Vettori has battled to bowl 22 miserly overs, conceding just 22 runs.

Arnel was confident New Zealand could make early inroads with the new ball tomorrow.

"If we can get a couple of early ones like they did this morning we can be right into their tail," he said.

"Then we can set up the game where they can be only 20, 30 or 50 ahead, then game on for us to bat big."

Pakistan this morning took just 47 balls to finish off the New Zealand innings before moving briskly through to 67 for one at lunch.

New Zealand resumed at 260 for eight but lost their last three wickets for 15 runs to end a disappointing batting performance.

Southee was out on the third ball of the day for 56, his overnight score, while Kane Williamson's impressive knock ended soon after when he top edged a hook shot and was out for 50.

Pace bowler Tanvir Ahmed finished with innings-best figures of four for 63 from 18.5 overs after taking two wickets today, while left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman did not get a chance to add to his overnight haul of three for 51 from 30 overs after a good allround bowling performance from the tourists.

The hosts had four players - Williamson, Southee, Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill - score fifties but the top score of the innings was just 56, jointly achieved by McCullum and Southee

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