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New Zealand take command in third Test

HAMILTON, New Zealand, March 27 (AFP) - New Zealand scuttled Pakistan for 104 then advanced to 160 without loss to take command of the third Test on the opening day Tuesday.

Mathew Bell and Mark Richardson became only the 12th opening partnership in Test history to pass an opposition's innings score. They also beat Rodney Redmond and Glenn Turner's first wicket partnership record against Pakistan of 159 from 1972-73.

Bell was on 89, his highest Test score, and Richardson on 64 when bad light halted play with 16 overs still scheduled to be bowled.

Kiwi skipper Stephen Fleming, who was ecstatic after winning the toss in humid, overcast conditions, rated the day among the best he had experienced.

"I don't think I've had a better day, a more complete day," Fleming said.

"To be this far advanced in the game and in such a dominant position is quite exhilarating."

Chris Martin and Daryl Tuffey grabbed four wickets each as Pakistan just staggered past the lunch break before folding for 104 in 26.5 overs and 128 minutes.

It was just enough for them to pass their previous lowest total against New Zealand of 102 in Faisalabad 11 years ago.

New Zealand's bowlers were not totally convincing but bowled enough wicket-taking deliveries and were helped by a relaxed Pakistani batting effort.

It was one of the more bizarre Test innings, with Pakistan racing to 28 without loss off five overs before losing five wickets in the next five.

Martin conceded 17 runs in his first two overs then took four for none off 14 balls in a remarkable spell.

He removed Ijaz Ahmed and Faisal Iqbal in the space of four balls then dismissed the free-scoring Imran Farhat for 24 before claiming the valuable scalp of stand-in captain Inzamam-ul-Haq for five.

Inzamam didn't offer a shot and was adjudged leg before wicket by umpire Steve Dunne, a decision which clearly did not impress him.

Then Tuffey, after an average first spell, removed second Test double centurion Yousuf Youhana for nought before the only useful partnership of the innings.

Younis Khan and debutant Humayun Farhat both flayed at the bowling to add 50 off 55 balls but the last five wickets fell for 15 runs as Tuffey cleaned up the tail.

Younis played an entertaining knock but was last out for 36 off 57 balls when he found Richardson on the deep square leg boundary.

Adam Parore's four catches in his 70th Test, three of them off Tuffey, took him past Ian Smith's New Zealand record of wicketkeeping dismissals of 176 from 63 Tests.

Then Bell and Richardson continued to be a revelation as an opening pair with their fourth consecutive 50-plus stand in just their fifth innings together.

There was little to trouble them on the still bowler-friendly pitch as Waqar Younis, Fazle Akbar and Mohammad Akram rarely beat the bat.

Bell was the aggressor, carving the bowling square of the wicket for nine fours to reach his third test 50 in just over two hours off 66 balls.

He hit 16 fours all up, with some vicious late pull shots off Younis.

Bell and Richardson reached their second century stand in 143 minutes, then passed Pakistan's total on their own before Richardson reached his seventh Test 50 in 156 minutes with a straight six off Saqlain Mushtaq.

Bell also achieved the rare feat of passing 1000 runs in a New Zealand season.

Pakistan suffered a double blow on the eve of the match, losing captain Moin Khan to an injured right knee then young pace bowler Mohammad Sami to shin soreness.

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