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Cricket: Black Caps battle through to lunch

Jeet Raval. Photo / Getty
Jeet Raval. Photo / Getty

With the ball whipping about like a kite on the opening morning of the second test in Hamilton, Jeet Raval weaved out of harm's way and drove convincingly to guide New Zealand to 77 for two at lunch against Pakistan.

The visitors, under debut skipper Azhar Ali, won a delayed toss and chose to field under an overcast sky. Play started on time but rain always threatened as a smattering of locals filled the embankment.

Raval continued the form which justified the selectors' faith during his compelling 55 and 36 not out on debut in Christchurch. He was unbeaten on 35, including five boundaries.

Sohail Khan, Mohammad Amir and Imran Khan produced their share of intimidating moments. Raval was dropped by first slip Sami Aslam on the third ball of the match from Amir. The Aucklander got a single two balls later. He looked to work a ball into the legside but squirted it through point. That brought Tom Latham onto strike, albeit briefly. He was forced onto the back foot first ball which gave Aslam further practice.

This time the Pakistani's hands passed muster.

Williamson constructed a sound second-wicket partnership with Raval. That extended to 38 runs until a Sohail Khan gem snuck through the No.3's defence as he shaped to drive in the 15th over.

Pakistan appealed and reviewed the 'not out' decision, which was subsequently reversed by television umpire Ian Gould.

Gould presumably saw something beyond the capabilities of the footage. Snicko showed the noise of the ball grazing near Williamson's upper right forearm, but Hotspot indicated no incriminating contact with the glove or bat. The decision made it worth pondering whether 'benefit of the doubt' still exists in the game's lexicon.

Ross Taylor entered and wasted no time gorging on the Pakistani bowling, throwing them off stride.

The No.4, who is due to have an operation to remove a pterygium on his left eye next week, had no problems with the visitors' bowling eye chart.

He carved six boundaries between third man and cover, racing to 29 off 20 balls. People will be queueing for his brand of eyedrops.

New Zealand brought Matt Henry into their side for the injured Trent Boult with the fit-again Mitchell Santner replacing Todd Astle.

Pakistan opted to rest leg spinner Yasir Shah and left-armer Rahat Ali in favour of four specialist pace bowlers with Wahab Riaz and Imran Khan coming in. Mohammad Rizwan replaced the absent (and suspended) Misbah-ul-Haq.

Rain arrived 15 minutes before the scheduled lunch break, precipitating the need for full covers as the players exited.

- NZ Herald

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