Southee’s half-ton propels New Zealand to 260/7
Hamilton: A half-century by tailender Tim Southee boosted New Zealand to 260-7 at stumps on first day of the first Test against Pakistan, putting the match back on an even keel.
Left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman took three wickets to help reduce New Zealand to 177-7 after sending the home team in today, but Southee (56 not out) and Kane Williamson (44 not out) then combined for an unbeaten 83-run stand.
Rehman received a call-up to play his fifth Test in the absence of regular spinner Saeed Ajmal who returned home after the death of his father.
When Pakistan captain Misbah ul-Haq won the toss and chose to bowl, it was in the expectation that the three-pronged pace attack would find early swing in humid conditions, but instead it was Rehman who profited on a bare, mostly placid pitch. He dismissed Martin Guptill (50), Ross Taylor (6) and debuting wicketkeeper Reece Young (14) to finish the day with 3-51.
Brendon McCullum gave the New Zealand innings early impetus, scoring 56 from 77 balls though his opening partner, Tim McIntosh, was out for 1 in only the second over of the day, caught by second slip Younis Khan off Tanvir Ahmed.
McCullum survived two confident appeals for catches behind the wicket. Replays showed he might have feathered an edge flashing at a wide delivery from Umar Gul and gloved an attempted hook off Wahab Riaz.
Australian umpire Rod Tucker adjudged McCullum not out on both occasions and he was reprieved because the umpire review system is not being used in this series.
By lunch New Zealand was 78-1 and Misbah’s decision to bowl first seemed mistaken. But Rehman made his presence felt as Pakistan took four wickets in the middle session.
McCullum hit an Umar Gul delivery to Azhar Ali at backward point to trigger a succession of wickets.
Ross Taylor top-edged an attempted cut off Rehman to wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal, and Jesse Ryder was unluckily run out when a Guptill drive was flicked onto the stumps by bowler Wahab Riaz with Ryder out of his crease at the non-striker’s end.
Guptill made a laborious 50 - his fifth in Tests – facing 164 balls before he fell in the final over before tea, hitting a full toss straight to cover.
The home team sank into further strife soon after the break when Young missed an attempted sweep shot and was out lbw. Captain Daniel Vettori also fell lbw, missing a full-pitched delivery from Tanvir Ahmed when playing across the line.
Young is the 250th Test player for New Zealand, setting the mark in his 100th first-class match.
Youngsters Southee and Williamson stuck together for 25 overs to give the innings some substance.
Williamson, who scored a century on debut against India in November, was watchful but stylish, halting the decline of the innings while also playing some superb drives off the back foot.
Southee gave him vital support, hitting eight fours in his accomplished half century - the third by a New Zealander on the first day.
Pakistan failed to capitalize on a strong position, bowling and fielding lethargically after taking the second new ball in the 82nd over. Tanvir, who shared the new ball with Gul, looked tired and bowled below his usual pace as Pakistan failed to press on from a dominant position.