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New Zealand need record-beater to clinch Test against Pakistan

AUCKLAND, March 11 (AFP) - New Zealand put on their best opening stand in 20 Test innings Sunday but were still in need of a cricketing world record to beat Pakistan on the final day of the first Test here.

On a day when just three wickets fell as the portable pitch flattened even further, New Zealand reached 105 for one at stumps on day four in pursuit of 431 to win.

Only a needless run out of Matthew Bell for 28, ending an opening stand with Mark Richardson of 91 in 128 minutes, stopped New Zealand going into day five with all wickets intact.

It left them 103 overs to score the further 326 runs and grab an unlikely win. It would top the 406 for four India scored against the West Indies 15 years ago as the highest successful Test run chase.

The New Zealand record was set against Pakistan in Christchurch in 1994, when Bryan Young and Shane Thomson centuries assisted a successful pursuit of 324.

New Zealand's big task was set by a majestic 149 not out by Younis Khan -- his third Test century in just his 10th match -- which helped Pakistan declare at tea on 336 for five.

Then New Zealand's new opening combination of Richardson and Bell -- the fourth in as many Rests -- recovered from double failures in the first innings to confidently add 91 in the first 29 overs.

In a terrible mix-up when Richardson called Bell through, Bell hesitated and was beaten by a throw to the bowler's end by centimetres.

Third umpire Brent Bowden gave him out after a promising 128 minute, 74-ball innings. Richardson was unaffected, confidently reaching his fifth Test 50 off 102 balls that included eight fours.

He will resume his innings Monday with nightwatchman Paul Wiseman. Pakistan's batsmen showed up the inexperience of New Zealand's four frontline bowlers who total just 20 caps among them. They also out-performed their New Zealand opposites after the home side scored 252 Saturday in their first innings.

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