Kamran Akmal was left stranded on 56 as New Zealand wrapped up the Pakistan tail to leave themselves 208 runs to get from a minimum of 43 overs to win the Napier Test. Iain O’Brien got rid of Umar Gul before Daniel Vettori and Martin Guptill removed Danish Kaneria and Mohammad Asif respectively to hasten the end after lunch.
A brain freeze by Mohammad Aamer at the stroke of lunch left the game wide open on the final day of the deciding Test in Napier. Kamran Akmal was leading Pakistan’s resistance after the departure of Misbah-ul-Haq and Umar Akmal and pushing Pakistan towards safety when Aamer fell to put New Zealand ahead in the contest.
It was the third ball of the last over before the break and with several close-in men hovering around him, an under-pressure Aamer, who had played out 52 balls with caution until then, went for the big shot against Daniel Vettori and holed out at deep midwicket.
It was that kind of a day; Pakistan were nervous and edgy in defense, New Zealand were patient without over attacking and things continued to happen. Pakistan adopted the go-slow approach but since it’s not a game that comes naturally to their players, it made for enthralling watching experience.
The moment that perfectly captured their dilemma came when Kamran Akmal hit a four and shook his head, seemingly unhappy about his shot selection. It was a stunning hit; he knifed through the line of a length delivery from Chris Martin over extra cover and as the camera panned on him, he was shaking his head and admonishing himself. It was a risky shot in the context of the game, with the team trying to secure safety first before thinking of anything beyond and he knew it. However, the shot was a natural, almost reflexive, reaction from an attacking batsman and it was that kind of a battle within the self that Umar and Misbah too fought without success.
Misbah’s failing was greater than that of Umar for he was not only the more experienced but also some one who can, in theory, play the patient game more easily. And he had started off well, nudging, pushing and leaving anything that he didn’t have to play. However New Zealand kept closing in on him with their relentless discipline and you could sense a feeling of claustrophobia setting in. And the brain freeze eventually came when he faced up to Daniel Vettori for the first time in the day. He went for an almighty heave-ho - his critics would call it a dirty old slog - missed it completely, and was done in by a quick stumping from Brendon McCullum with his back foot still on the line.
Unlike yesterday, Umar was more sedate this morning. Iain O’Brien teased him to have a go and the close-in fielders had a go at breaking the resolve of the young man but he carried on with his defensive intent. Occasionally, though, the impishness in him threatened to crack open the lid of self-control. There was a hoick against O’Brien and a couple of plays and misses but no damage was done till he came up against the new ball. It was a short delivery outside off and he went for the cut shot but feathered an edge to McCullum.
Kamran tried his best to ensure that a Pakistan loss was taken out of the equation but Aamer’s wicket has thrown open all possibilities yet again.
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Tuesday, December 15th, 2009 and is filed under Cricket, General.
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