The bowlers have given New Zealand the whip hand going into day two of the second test against Pakistan.

The challenge today will be whether their batting chums can make it count. Several sorely need some runs. The next two days will give them the ideal opportunity.

At stumps Pakistan, having been sent in on a bitterly cold, windy day, were a parlous 161 for six, having lost wickets in two clumps, and with it possibly any hope of winning the three-match series.

Several days of rain left parts of the ground soggy.

However, the umpires, Rudi Koertzen and Simon Taufel, had settled on a 12.45pm start - 45 minutes late - until captains Dan Vettori and Mohammad Yousuf took a look at the bowlers' run up at the northern end and gave that plan the red card.

Player power won out, bowlers' safety their trump card, and play eventually began at 2.10pm.

The Basin Reserve is celebrating its 50th test and has a distinctive appeal on good days. This wasn't one of them and for much of the day the frozen-fingered few who dotted the bank and stands yesterday sat in near silence.

As the winds whistled through the rafters of the RA Vance Stand it was not hard to think of more pleasant places to be. Pakistan doubtless felt the same by the end of a truncated day, on which 25 overs were unbowled.

It was a desperately soulless place, as far removed from the sun-dappled last day at Dunedin last weekend - admittedly accompanied by the drama of the push towards victory - as could be imagined.

Several strokes for runs to the deep didn't draw even a single clap as spectators wisely opted to keep their hands warm.

Yet as openers Imran Farhat and Salman Butt - one of three changes from the first test defeat at Dunedin - safely made their way to 60 at a leisurely pace the day promised much more than it ultimately produced for Pakistan.

New Zealand's seamers were guilty of not making the batsmen play often enough. However, one dopey shot shoved open the door, and the complexion of the day swiftly changed.

Butt miscued an attempted pull to be caught at mid on, then Vettori grabbed two wickets in three deliveries. Three wickets in 20 balls and the game had sharply shifted direction.

Pakistan's batsmen won't die wondering and New Zealand benefited from sticking to their plans, figuring a chance would present itself soon enough.

Iain O'Brien produced a terrific pre-tea spell in which he put teenager Umar Akmal through the wringer.

The young man who made a fine 129 and 75 on debut last week was promoted to No3 yesterday from No5. One whisper doing the rounds was that no one else much fancied it and the youngster won the job by default.

He played and missed, edged through the slips and at one point started to duck a short ball only to change his mind at the last moment.

Still, he got to 46 at run-a-ball rate before Daryl Tuffey made sure his first test appearance for five years would produce a dividend.

He got a ball to nip back between Akmal's bat and pad, then had Shoaib Malik carelessly driving to mid off.

Vettori got Misbah-ul-Haq lbw sweeping - and after an unsuccessful referral upstairs - shortly after to cap off a job well done.

When bad light sent the players off at 6.38pm, it was a relief to Pakistan, and the chilled handful which barely constituted a crowd.

Pakistan have much to do today to get back in the test, and the series.