Nicholls, along with Raval, will hold key for New Zealand on Day Three    Getty Images
Nicholls, along with Raval, will hold key for New Zealand on Day Three Getty Images

Zimbabwean-born Colin de Grandhomme celebrated his international call-up with a record New Zealand debut bowling figures of 6 for 41 as Pakistan could manage a mere 133 in their first innings of the opening Test on Friday. After the 30-year-old all-rounder triggered Pakistan’s collapse at Hagley Oval in Christchurch, New Zealand’s other debutant Jeet Raval put them in a strong position to be 104-3 in reply at stumps. The hosts were struggling at one point with score reading 40 for 3 and Tom Latham, skipper Kane Williamson and experienced Ross Taylor all back in the hut. But the newcomer Raval (55 not out) along with Henry Nicholls (29 not out) added 64 for the fourth wicket to put New Zealand in charge. FULL SCORECARD: PAKISTAN vs NEW ZEALAND, 1st TEST AT CHRISTCHURCH.

Up against the mercurial Pakistan, which has never lost a Test series in New Zealand since 1985, the hosts put up a commendable bowling effort. The Day One was washed out without a single ball being bowled and the coin being flipped for the toss. Thus, Day Two was effectively the Day One. Pakistan were yet to play a delivery on this tour, with their three-day practice match against New Zealand A in Nelson also getting washed out. It was always going to be difficult for them to cope up with the conditions after coming from a series in the gulf. LIVE BLOG, DAY 2: PAKISTAN vs NEW ZEALAND, 1st TEST AT CHRISTCHURCH.

And it showed in their performance. New Zealand captain Kane Williamson won the toss and put the opposition into bat. Pakistan openers Sami Aslam and Azhar Ali had made a steady start and added 31 runs for the first wicket before de Grandhomme ran through their batting order, taking 6 for 41, on a greenish wicket with a wet outfield. His effort was well supported by senior pros Tim Southee and Trent Boult, who finished with figures of 2 for 30 and 2 for 39 respectively. For Pakistan, skipper Misbah-ul-Haq was the lone ranger, showing some resistance before falling for 31. Apart from him, only three other batsmen could reach the double digit scores.

On Day Three, all eyes shall be on Raval, who is unbeaten on 55, and his partner Nicolls. A lot will depend on how these two players approach Day Three and how far they go. They still have BJ Watling and bowling hero de Grandhomme waiting in the dug out to bat. The likes of Todd Astle and Southee can bat too. So, it will be interesting how New Zealand go about in their first innings on Day Three. Ideally, they would look to bat long and take a lead of around 150-200 runs. The more they get, the better for them since they will be batting fourth in the match. Pakistan, on the other hand, will look to stop New Zealand from taking a substantial lead. They will hope for some early wickets to put a check on the Kiwis.

Pitch and conditions:

The Christchurch wicket was expected to be a fair one, assisting both the sides. It usually provides considerable assistance to the bowlers on first three mornings before becoming better for batting as the Test progresses. However, the presence of rain on Day One and decent grass on the pitch made the conditions conducive for seam and swing. New Zealand bowlers exploited the conditions well to bundle out the tourists for 133. Pakistani bowlers also did well to take three early wickets, making it a 13-wicket day.

The pitch is expected to get better for batting though. There is also no forecast of rain for the remaining days. The way Day Two panned out, the chances of an outright result in the game have increased. Day Three, thus, will set the tone for the match.

(A self-confessed cricket freak, Chinmay Jawalekar is a senior writer with CricketCountry. When not writing or following cricket, he loves to read, eat and sleep. He can be followed here @CricfreakTweets)