Cricket: Ross Taylor Rescues New Zealand as Pakistan Pays for Profligacy

Richard O'HaganCorrespondent IIJanuary 18, 2011

Ross Taylor's 52 kept New Zealand in the second Test in Wellington
Ross Taylor's 52 kept New Zealand in the second Test in WellingtonMarty Melville/Getty Images

New Zealand finished the fourth day at the Basin Reserve 273 runs ahead and now have a good chance of winning this game. That they are in this position is entirely due to the way that Pakistan chose to play the day, and if the visitors do lose this game, they will have only themselves to blame.

In the first session, Pakistan bowled only 25 overs, a pathetic run rate when a spinner was operating from one end for most of the time. Moreover, their defensive field placings cost them at least one wicket (when Martin Guptill bat-padded a ball to where silly point had just been removed after just one attacking shot).

It was a very strange way to approach a day which Pakistan began 11 runs ahead, and it was clear that defending their 1-0 series lead was more important than winning this game. This enabled Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill to put on 120 runs for the first wicket with little bother whatsoever.

After lunch, Pakistan suddenly seemed to find some intent. Guptill was dropped behind the stumps and rattled by a bouncer before McCullum mishit a skier to long off. New Zealand became bogged down thereafter, with Abdur Rehman wheeling away at one end and Wahab Riaz enjoying little success at the other. Rehman eventually pinned Guptill leg before and suddenly wickets began to fall, with both Kane Williamson and Jesse Ryder going cheaply.

Ross Taylor held the innings together with his second fifty of the game, but wickets fell steadily at the other end. Part-time off-spinner Mohammed Hafeez found prodigious turn to pick up two quick wickets, and then an inspired spell from Umar Gul saw him pick up the last four wickets as New Zealand went from 268-5 to 293 all out.

Pakistan begin the final day needing 274 to win and with all 10 wickets intact. How close they get to that target very much depends upon which Pakistan shows up—the one from the morning session, or the one that played the rest of the day. And with the pitch beginning to turn, it could be a fascinating final day.