Rain brings to end an enthralling contest
by Jinu Sabastian
DateLine: 15th December 2009
Rain robbed off what could have been a thrilling contest between New Zealand and Pakistan as the match was ending towards the wire. Set a target of 208 to win in 43 overs New Zealand cruised to 90 for no loss in 19 overs before rain intervened.
Pakistan started the day with the sole aim of removing the the equation of a Pakistan loss and it nearly was their undoing. The overnight batsmen Umar Akmal and Misbah ul Haq exercised extreme caution and the Kiwis sensing the batsmen's reluctance piled on the pressure. A naturally attacking batsman, Umar Akmal found it extremely difficult to contain himself as evident fro the shot that brought up his fifty. Misbah played the waiting game against the pacers while Akmal played and missed several times. Misbah (6) stone-walled for 64 balls but a ball later he went for an almighty slog over midwicket of a tireless Vettori and was stumped by an alert McCullum. The safety-first approach continued from Pakistan and Vettori was on the ball as he began to employ a very clever semi-defensive field to suffocate the Akmal brothers.
Finally Umar Akmal (77) fell to he new ball when his lack of foot-work did him in. Mohammad Aamer played out 52 balls patiently resisting the temptation to go over the top but finally his inexperience caused his downfall as he swung a flighted delivery from Vettori straight into the throat of Martin at deep midwicket at the stroke of lunch as Pakistan began to slip. Next to go was Gul (0) as an alert Flynn snapped up a sharp inside edge at short leg of O' Brien who claimed his last wicket in Test cricket. Kamran Akmal still opted to to go slow and he was supported by Kaneria for some time before Southee ended his stay and Guptill continued his dream spell with the ball when he trapped an immobile Asif leg before as Pakistan set 208 to win with a minimum of 43 overs.
New Zealand in reply got off to a steady start as the openers Watling and McIntosh were cautious. After tea both Watling opened up and began to play some aggressive strokes. Runs began to flow in cascade as the Pakistani bowlers began to panic. Discussions in the middle became longer and as Yousuf rang in changes to try and stem the flow of runs but nothing worked. McIntosh played a perfect foil to Watling as he turned over the strike at every possible opportunity. Just when it seemed that New Zealand was dictating the course of the match rain came down heavily to deny the Kiwis a crack at the target.