O' Brien helps New Zealand go on top
by Jinu Sabastian
DateLine: 11th December 2009
O' Brien and Imran Farhat dominated the day's proceedings as New Zealand came on top of Pakistan after a see-sawing day's play. O' Brien bowled like wind to decimate the Pakistani batting line-up but Farhat helped Pakistan to fightback as he scored a superb century to help Pakistan reach a competitive 223.
Yousuf won an important toss and had no hesitation to bat first though the
pitch had some amount of grass. Pakistan dropped Shoaib Malik and replaced him
with Faisal Iqbal while Grant Elliot and Peter Fulton gave way to Tim Southee
and Bradley Watling.
Salman Butt (8) got the innings got underway with a ferocious cut through point and a well guided upper-cut over slips but his stay was soon ended when a beautiful yorker from Southee sneaked through the defenses of the southpaw to flatten his middle stump. Imran Farhat and Faisal Iqbal were able to ward off the Kiwi bowlers but then came along Ian O' Brien. O' Brien who is playing his last international game was on target right-away. Consistently breaching the
140 ks he produced a brute of a delivery to a hapless Iqbal (6) who was ill-equipped to handle the delivery which spat of the wicket like a snake got on the splice of the bat and lobbed up gently to Guptill at gully. O' Brien tied up skipper Yousuf in knots as he bowled a disciplined line and length and just when Yousuf thought that he got the right ball to get off the mark the extra bounce was too much for him as he edged to slips for a 13 ball duck.
O'Brien continued to run-riot as he produced another peach to remove the sensational Umar Akmal to hand the youngster his first failure at international level and his figures read 4.2-4-3-3. Four balls later O'Brien got a ball to straighten a wee-bit to catch the unsure edge of Misbah's bat and McCullum gleefully accepted the offering to give Pakistan its third duck in the innings. Kamran Akmal and Farhat counterattacked to get the innings on track. Kamran displayed some audacious shot-making abilities as he took on the Kiwi bowlers including O'Brien who was bowling like a wind.
Kamran did not survive long when a well-directed bouncer from Martin caught the batsman in no man's land. Kamran (22) shaped to pull but tried to withdraw at the last moment but was too late as the ball popped up at cover-point where Guptill ran back a few paces to take a good catch. Amidst all the mayhem Farhat registered his first half-century of the tour and it was not without any rash shots. Farhat swiped across the line several times, flayed through the covers, edged fatally through the slip cordon and was unsettled by well-directed bouncers from Martin and O'Brien. But the feisty southpaw survived all those testing periods to help himself to a crucial half-century. In between those rash shots he played some thumping cover-drives, imperious on-drives, ferocious cuts and stunning slog over midwicket for a massive six of Martin.
Farhat found a willing partner in Aamer who displayed enough temperament to ward of the rampaging Kiwi pacemen. Though there were regular tailender stuffs like mindless swing across the line, plays and misses Aamer regained his composure fairly quickly to support his senior partner. The pair added 69 for the seventh wicket in 23.4 overs to resurrect the Pakistani innings. Farhat brought up his hundred in 136 balls but soon Aamer (23) fell. With some late support from the lower order Farhat helped Pakistan reach 223.
New Zealand openers in reply after facing some initial discomfort were able to negotiate the Pakistani opening bowlers comfortably. McIntosh and Watling stitched together New Zealand's highest opening partnership of the series as they put on unbeaten 47 before the stumps were drawn.