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Pakistan in commanding position over New Zealand


AUCKLAND, March 9 (AFP) - Pakistan fought back from a shaky start to enjoy a measure of control at the end of a rain-abbreviated second day of the opening Test with New Zealand here Friday.

The tourists recovered from a collapse early in the day to make 346. They then put New Zealand firmly on the backfoot with Waqar Younis and debutant Mohammed Sami removing the home side's opening pair with just a solitary run on the board.

New Zealand ended the day on 65 for two with captain Stephen Fleming on 32 and Mathew Sinclair unbeaten on 28. The pair survived a testing examination from a four-pronged Pakistani attack and still have plenty of work tomorrow on a seemingly placid pitch.

Although rain wiped out about four hours' play the match ignited in gloomy conditions this afternoon with Pakistan duo Moin Khan and Mushtaq Ahmed adding 52 in eight overs to carry the tourists to the brink of 350.

Waqar and Sami then took centre stage swiftly removing Matthew Bell and Mark Richardson to have New Zealand in disarray.

Bell, in his comeback Test after an 18-month break since a poor showing against India, was unlucky to be undone by a poor umpiring decision from the fourth ball of the innings.

New Zealand umpire Doug Cowie adjudged Bell caught behind first ball although replays indicated the ball had brushed his back pad en route to Moin.

However, there was no doubt surrounding the demise of Richardson, the appointed anchor of New Zealand's innings. Sami's fifth ball in Test cricket -- a 140kmh (87.5 mph) yorker -- sneaked under his defences on to the stumps.

Waqar and Sami troubled Fleming and Sinclair with pace and deviation before spinners Saqlain Mushtaq and Mushtaq Ahmed kept the screws on the scoring rate with fielders clustered around the bat.

Rain returned with three overs still to bowl in the revised final session. Weather permitting day three will start 30 minutes early at 10am.

Although Pakistan's total was below their expectations after they resumed at 270 for four, they did well to recover after nosediving to 294 for eight before rain first forced players from the field before lunch.

Moin and Ahmed stopped the rot, adding 52 in eight overs after the rain delay, with captain Moin scoring 47 off 36 balls including eight boundaries.

Ahmed was last out for 19, caught behind by Adam Parore to give young allrounder James Franklin his first Test wicket. The last six wickets fell for the addition of just 76 runs.

Parore effected the last two dismissals to finish with five catches for the innings.

Lights at the ground were switched on to alleviate the gloom, the second time they had been used in a Test match here.

Moin and Ahmed wasted little time illuminating an otherwise drab day for the meagre crowd with the duo immediately talking the long handle to New Zealand pace bowlers Chris Martin and Daryl Tuffey.

New Zealand's ground fielding and catching was again below par. Ahmed should have been run out on the first ball after the rain delay but Matthew Bell missed the stumps while Martin dropped Khan at long leg when the captain had scored 30.

Tuffey eventually exacted his revenge when Khan was caught behind, giving the rookie paceman four for 96 off 34 overs, the most impressive figures of the innings. Martin took four for 106 off 22 overs.

Younis Khan, who failed to add to his overnight tally, top scored for Pakistan with 91.





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