Pakistan opening batsman Taufeeq Umar showered praise on his captain Misbahul Haq and Asad Shafiq who helped the team recover from a precarious 107 for four against New Zealand at the end of the second day’s play at the Seddon Park, Hamilton.
Pakistan reached 235 for four after bundling out the hosts for 275 in the first-innings with Misbah and Shafiq adding an unbeaten 128 for the fifth wicket.
“Misbah and Asad played brilliantly, and because of that we are in the driving seat right now,” said Umar. “I think as a senior player, Misbah helped Asad along in the innings, and they really showed us how to bat on this wicket. The first target is 275, and then we can see from there. If Misbah and Asad continue to play well, we are looking at a lead of about 100.”
The left-handed opener, who made 54 off 104 deliveries, also believed the bowlers should be given credit for restricting New Zealand on a “batsmen’s pitch”.
“Last night Tim Southee played well, but we came in with a plan this morning to bounce Southee out and to give [Kane Williamson] the single, so we bowled really well.”
Both Willamson and Brent Arnel also fell to short deliveries as the tourists sent New Zealand packing with a onslaught of short-pitched deliveries.
Arnel confident of comeback
Meanwhile, New Zealand fast-bowler Arnel was confident his side could regain control of the match. Arnel was the best of the bowlers on a tough day for them, picking up the wickets of Umar and Younus Khan.
“We’re in a position now with the new ball coming up first thing in the morning,” said Arnel.
“ If we can set up the game that they might only be 20 or 30 ahead, then it’s game on for us.”
Earlier, Shafiq produced the highest score of the Test so far to be unbeaten on 74 with his captain Misbah on 50 not out. The pair came together when New Zealand had seized the initiative in the middle session with three quick wickets to have Pakistan teetering at 107 for four.
But the bowlers were unable to press home their advantage, toiling away on a placid wicket while Shafiq and Misbah set about rescuing Pakistan’s innings.
The in-form captain, Misbah, grafted for more than three hours and was content to play the anchor role while Shafiq kept the scoreboard ticking over, finding boundaries with ease. (WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM AFP)
Published in The Express Tribune, January 9th, 2011.
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