The National staff Mohammad Asif marked his return to Test cricket with three wickets as Pakistan restricted New Zealand to 276 for six on day one of the first Test in Dunedin yesterday. The controversial fast bowler, back after a two-year absence after being found carrying opium while passing through Dubai International Airport, struck early to dismiss Daniel Flynn then removed Peter Fulton and Grant Elliott in quick succession in the final session to finish with figures of three for 76 off 24 overs. However, striking even earlier was Mohammed Aamer, the 17-year-old paceman who impressed during these teams' limited overs series in the UAE. He removed Tim McIntosh with a yorker - the first ball in Test cricket the opener had faced. Aamer also got the wicket of Martin Guptill, who scored 60, while Ross Taylor added 94 to steady the home team's innings.
Their third-wicket stand of 117 dug New Zealand out of trouble after a start which saw them reeling at 27 for two inside the opening six overs. A maiden Test 50 for Guptill, who was eventually dismissed in the second session and a determined knock by Taylor, appeared to give the Black Caps some hope of setting a reasonable total but that was dashed when Asif removed Fulton and Elliott in successive overs to leave them on 211 for six. "I would have liked to get more but I'm happy to get past 50 for the first time," Guptill said after his highest Test innings. "I thought he batted very well," added his teammate Taylor. "He's had a few starts over his career and it was good for him to go on and get past 50.
"I'm sure that he will be disappointed also with getting to 60, doing all the hard work and then getting out. "Hopefully we can both kick on a bit more in the second innings." Meanwhile, Taylor said the game was evenly poised going into day two with an unbeaten 65-run partnership for the seventh wicket between Daniel Vettori and Brendon McCullum. "The partnership of Daniel and Brendon has probably put us back in the match a bit," Taylor said. In the last session of the day, Taylor was undone by spinner Saeed Ajmal, who enticed him to edge to Imran Farhat at first slip when he was six runs short of his fifth Test century.
"Obviously the goal as a batsman is to try and get to three figures and to be very close in the end but not close enough is disappointing," the right-hander said. "But I can't really complain too much because the shot I played was a poor shot in the end really." Taylor was involved in the first use of the new Umpire Decision Review System when Asif thought he had him trapped lbw, but Billy Doctrove's original decision was upheld. "I've seen it since and it was a little bit closer than I thought," Taylor said. "But when I first got hit I thought it was quite high and I might even have got hit outside the line. "As it worked out the umpire made the right decision and I'm happy for that."
On the penultimate ball of the day, McCullum, who was given out lbw by Simon Taufel off the bowling of Asif, called for a review and had that decision reversed. "That last decision going our way helped us immensely," Taylor said. * With agencies
New Zealand: Tim McIntosh b Aamer 0 Martin Guptill c Alam b Aamer 60 Daniel Flynn c Akmal b Asif 8 Ross Taylor c Farhat b Ajmal 94 Peter Fulton b Asif 29 Grant Elliott c Akmal b Asif 8 Brendon McCullum batting 25 Daniel Vettori batting 40 Extras: (lb11, nb1) 12 Total: (for six wickets, 90 overs) 276 Fall of wickets: 1-0 (McIntosh), 2-27 (Flynn), 3-144 (Guptill), 4-192 (Taylor), 5-210 (Fulton), 6-211 (Elliott). Bowling: Mohammad Aamer 19-3-62-2, Mohammad Asif 24-4-76-3, Umar Gul 21-7-78-0 (1nb), Saeed Ajmal 26-9-49-1.