Brendon McCullum scored the fastest Test century by a New Zealand batsman © Getty Images
Brendon McCullum scored the fastest Test century by a New Zealand batsman © Getty Images

New Zealand emerged the dominant side on the second day of the third and final Test at Sharjah. They finished on a score of 249 for one after skittling Pakistan out for 351. Skipper Brendon McCullum and Mark Craig were the stars among the New Zealand batsmen and bowlers respectively. Amit Banerjee takes an analytical look at the day’s progress.

There is a stark contrast between the first and second days of play of the third and final Test between Pakistan and New Zealand. While Pakistan were clearly on top on the opening day, with Mohammad Hafeez making up for missing out on the second Test by hitting a scintillating ton, guiding Pakistan to a comfortable position of 281 for three. The New Zealand bowlers were in for some rough treatment on the opening day, with spinners Mark Craig and Daniel Vettori being the only wicket-takers for their side, with the rest of the attack being pummelled by Hafeez on a regular basis.

The second day got postponed by a day due to the sudden death of Phil Hughes, which caused a pall of gloom too descend on both the camps, making the players unable to perform to their best. There were thoughts of the postponing having an effect on the Hafeez-Misbah pair, as the events of the day might break their concentration. And that is what occured on Day Two, with New Zealand reversing the balance of the game to create a genuine chance for them to level the series. Mark Craig’s figures of seven for 94 turned out to be the second best by a New Zealand spinner, with Daniel Vettori’s figures of 87 for seven. Following is the list of top-five wicket-hauls in an innings by New Zealand spinners:

Player

Bowling Figures

Opposition

Year

Daniel Vettori

7 for 87

Australia

2000

Stephen Boock

7 for 87

Pakistan

1984

Mark Craig

7 for 94

Pakistan

2014

Daniel Vettori

7 for 130

Sri Lanka

2006

Daniel Vettori

6 for 28

Bangladesh

2004

Not only did the Hafeez-Misbah partnership, eventually worth 125 runs, failed to last long on the second day, the Pakistani batting-order experienced something they are all too familiar with — self-destruction. After Hafeez’s dismissal, courtesy a risky shot off the bowling of Ish Sodhi that saw him get caught at the deep square-leg boundary by Trent Boult three runs short of a well-deserved maiden double-ton. That was the beginning of a collapse, as they lost their next five wickets for 40 runs. Asad Shafiq and Sarfraz Ahmed, who had been experiencing a rise in batting form in the recent past.

The New Zealand batsmen were expected to fire in order to support the magic that the New Zealand bowlers, especially Craig, had performed. Brendon McCullum managed to exceed those expectations, by smashing a quickfire 153 off 145 deliveries, recording the fastest century by a Kiwi batsman. After losing Tom Latham early in the innings for a mere 13, the pair of McCullum and Kane Williamson put up a 198-run stand for the second-wicket, which turns out to be the highest partnership for New Zealand against Pakistan for any wicket, surpassing the 195-run stand between John Wright and Geoffrey Howarth in 1979. Williamson, who played a silent partner for most part of the stand, managed to chip in with an boundary or two occasionally, finishing on a score of 76 from 96 balls.

Ross Taylor became the second New Zealand cricketer to take 100 Test catches after Stephen Fleming. Taylor took two catches at the slips off the bowling of Mark Craig to dismiss Rahat Ali and Yasir Shah. Following is the list of most career catches by New Zealand cricketers:

Player

Matches

Innings

Catches

Stephen Fleming

111

199

171

Ross Taylor

60

110

101

Martin Crowe

77

130

71

Nathan Astle

81

147

70

Jeremy Coney

52

97

64

(Amit Banerjee, a reporter at CricketCountry, takes keen interest in photography, travelling, technology, automobiles, food and, of course, cricket. He can be followed on Twitter via his handle @akb287)