Cricket: Misbah-Ul-Haq Falls for 99 As Pakistan Fail To Press Home Advantage

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Cricket: Misbah-Ul-Haq Falls for 99 As Pakistan Fail To Press Home Advantage
Marty Melville/Getty Images
Misbah-ul-Huq missed out on a hundred as Pakistan missed out on the chance to dominate this game

Pakistani captain Misbah-ul-Haq came tantalisingly close to what would have been only his third Test hundred as Pakistan failed to take advantage of some solid upper order batting losing their last seven wickets for just 90 runs. This turned a strong position into one where they barely registered a lead.

New Zealand actually looked the better side at the start of the day, with the ball reverse swinging from the outset. Veteran seamer Chris Martin was particularly dangerous—one bouncer started well outside off before veering back in to almost decapitate Azhar Ali. Unnerved, it was not long before Ali fended another short ball to slip.

That, however, was it so far as New Zealand success went. Younis Khan was joined a the crease by Misbah and the pair of them put on 142 for the fourth wicket. Martin was a little unlucky as he swung the ball past the outside edge repeatedly, but the batsmen then had a stroke of luck as the umpires declared the ball to be out of shape and replaced it. The replacement ball failed to swing at all and life became much easier for the visitors. This sent the New Zealanders into defensive mode, which was odd for a side who were still over 200 runs ahead at the time.

Thereafter it was all Pakistan and even the new ball didn't help as the two batsmen simply used the extra hardness to hit the flagging New Zealand bowlers further and faster. Both batsmen passed fifty with ease and seemed destined for big scores when Younis was the unfortunate victim of another terrible umpiring decision, being given out caught at short leg when the bat was nowhere near the ball.

At this point New Zealand went on the attack and Asad Shafiq lasted only five balls before edging a viciously spinning delivery from Daniel Vettori to slip. Thereafter only Adnan Akmal was able to stay with Misbah for long and it took some lusty blows from Umar Gul at number nine to see Pakistan past New Zealand's total.

With only two days to play this match now looks destined for a draw, which will suit Pakistan as it will give them a series victory. The pitch still offers pace and bounce, but little in the way of spin. This means that New Zealand need to build a lead very quickly if they are to have any chance of winning this game and squaring the two match series. On the evidence of today, they are probably not bold enough to do it.

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