x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Umar century a silver lining for Pakistan

Maiden ton along with brother Kamran Akmal's 82 helps team recover from a bad position and hope to force a draw.

The Pakistan coach Intikhab Alam is predicting a big future for Umar Akmal following a brilliant century in his first Test innings yesterday. Umar scored a 160-ball 129 on day three of the first Test with New Zealand as he showed maturity beyond his 19 years to help guide Pakistan to respectability from a perilous position of 85 for five in reply to New Zealand's first innings total of 429.

"He is something very special and a very exciting player," said Intikhab, after watching his side reach 307 for eight at stumps in Dunedin. "He is a very hard working, very dedicated young person. He's a very exciting cricketer. We are lucky to have him in the side and I think he's got a great future for Pakistan." Umar's 176-run partnership with his brother Kamran, who made 82, was the highlight for Pakistan, who were left reeling when Chris Martin removed their openers Khurram Manzoor and Imran Farhat before lunch to leave them on 54 for two at the interval.

Things got worse when Shane Bond got the key wicket of captain Mohammad Yousuf, then those of Fawad Alam and Shoaib Malik - all in the space of 10 balls. But Umar was unfazed, cracking a boundary off the first delivery he faced. He continued to play his shots and his innings included 16 fours and two sixes - he swept the New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori over the rope for one of them - before he fell late in the day.

"The good thing about this youngster is that he never gets under pressure," said Intikhab. "He played his own natural game." Umar had spoken to his mother in Pakistan before the start of the day and he dedicated his innings to his parents. "His mother said she would be praying for him and she hoped that he would score some runs. She told him to just relax and take it easy but he didn't listen to her," said Intikhab.

Bond's return to the Test arena after a two-year absence could not have gone much better as he finished the day with figures of four for 93. "I probably didn't expect to bowl 24 overs but I'm pretty happy to come through that," said the 34-year-old paceman. "My body felt pretty good the whole day and it's always nice to get wickets. I really enjoyed it. "I was pretty keen to try to get that tonight. I'll be wanting the ball first up tomorrow morning to try and finish that off."

Despite his personal success, Bond did admit to being surprised at how flat the wicket was. "We just had to make a conscious effort to run in hard and bowl aggressively on that wicket. "It was a case of just trying to run in and hit the deck. Sometimes you leak a few runs doing that but I think you give yourself the best chance of taking wickets." Bond was also upbeat about New Zealand's chances of getting a result, with Pakistan still trailing by 122 runs and down to the tailenders. "We're in a good position. I think it's important we clean up those [remaining] wickets then we've got a good lead hopefully. Then the game is ours to set up really. We could still lose the game if we bat poorly but if we play well then we can set the game up and hopefully be the only team who can win it." * PA Sport

NewZealand (1st innings, overnight 404-8): Tim McIntosh b Aamer 0 Martin Guptill c Alam b Aamer 60 Damien Flynn c K Akmal b Asif 8 Ross Taylor c Farhat b Ajmal 94 Petter Fulton b Asif 29 Grant Elliott c K Akmal b Asif 8 Brendon McCullum b Gul 78 Daniel Vettori c K Akmal b Gul 99 Shane Bond c K Akmal b Asif 22 Ian O'Brien not out 13 C Martin lbw b Ajmal 0 Extras (1w, 3nb, 14lb) 18 Total (131.5 overs) 429 Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-27, 3-144, 4-192, 5-210, 6-211, 7-375, 8-402, 9-428, 10-429 Bowling: Mohammad Aamer 24-3-87-2, Mohammad Asif 34-6-108-4, Umar Gul 36-10-129-2, Saeed Ajmal 37.5-10-91-2 Pakistan: Imran Farhat b Martin 6 Khurram Manzoor lbw b Martin 22 Fawad Alam c McCullum b Bond 29 Mohammad Yousuf c & b Bond 17 Umar Akmal c Fulton b Bond 129 Shoaib Malik b Bond 2 Kamran Akmal c Taylor b Vettori 82 Mohammad Aamer not out 12 Saeed Ajmal lbw b Vettori 6 Mohammad Asif not out 0 Extras (2nb) Total (90 overs , 8 wickets) 307 Fall of wickets: 1-11, 2-43, 3-74, 4-79, 5-85, 6-261, 7-293, 8-302 Bowling: Bond 244-93-4, Martin 18-7-52-2, O'Brien 21-3-98-0, Vettori 27-7-64-2