New Zealand looked to have taken control in the rain-hit fourth day of the deciding third Test against Pakistan after taking a 248-run first-innings lead in Napier before Pakistan's top four hit back yesterday. A patient display saw all four batsmen make half-centuries as they reached 347 for four by the close - 99 runs ahead with six wickets intact. Openers Imran Farhat and Salman Butt resumed on an unbroken stand of 128 but Kiwi captain Daniel Vettori sprung a surprise by opening the day with the part-time spin of top-order batsman Martin Guptill and was rewarded with two wickets.
Butt scooped the third ball of the day back to the bowler without adding to his overnight 66, while Farhat contributed just six before offering Guptill his second return catch. His exit, for 61, left Guptill with figures of two for 16 and Pakistan needing to rebuild from 146 for two. That they did as Faisal Iqbal and captain Mohammad Yousuf dug in. Yousuf in particular made a solid but pedestrian start but hit four fours and a six en route to a 117-ball fifty.
Iqbal, meanwhile, made 67 before being snared by Chris Martin shortly before the interval to end a stand of 128. Yousuf was unbeaten on 75 at the interval but added only a further 14 before fending a short ball from O'Brien to keeper Brendon McCullum and walking without waiting for umpire Rudi Koertzen's decision. Umar Akmal then took centre stage, opening his account with a six off Daryl Tuffey and moving to 24 from as many deliveries.
He then settled down, going scoreless for 19 balls and hitting only two further boundaries as he closed on 48 not out from 84. He and Misbah-ul-Haq, unbeaten on four at the other end, resume today as both sides eye victory . * With Agencies