O’ Brien breathes fire

The fluctuation continues. At one point, I thought Pakistan were saying   ” We’ll match your ninety nine”  but NZ could not finish things off. Yet again, bowling to the tail lacked penetration. From 5 down for 55, you should not allow the opposition to get away to 223.
Both sides are extremely unpredictable and the beauty of the sine wave of this series was on show again today.

Pakistan chose to bat and rightly so. One would have expected Jeetan Patel to join Dan for Napier but the 4 fast bowler theory paid off. Tim Southee is a much improved bowler than what he was while getting dropped last year. He started with a couple of balls short and wide of the of stump. Salman Butt despatched them for boundaries but Southee came right back. He pitched one full and around the off stump, the pace and swing found the gap between bat and pad and uprooted Butt’s middle stump.
Happy Birthday Tim Southee!

Cometh the hour, Cometh the man.. they say. “Get his wife a job here, we can’t let him go now..” were the words of Ian Smith on commentary.Iain O Brien produced a perfect spell of test match fast bowling. Mind you, the pitch was very good for batting. The bounce looked true and there was good pace in the wicket. There was a hint of seam movement but by no means was a totally bowler friendly one.

Faisal Iqbal was set up beautifully for the short one on his throat.He was never going to keep that one down.
Mohammad Yousuf had no opportunity to open his account. He survived a run out when young debutant Watling showed his class on the field.And when he tried to get off the mark with a slash on the off side off a ball not wide enough for that, he managed to edge the ball to second slip. McIntosh plucked that out of thin air.
Next came Umer Akmal. The law of averages caught up with him. After scores of 129, 75,46 and 52,he played a poor shot steering a wide one straight to gully.
Misbah was done in by a beauty. Absolute ripper. And at one stage,Iain O Brien’s figures read 4.2 overs, 4 maidens, 3 wickets for 3 runs and those figures exactly represented his rythm. This (courtesy Cricinfo) should give you a fair idea. Very sad he’s retiring now.
Quite warm in Napier, not much breeze either. A clean shaven Iain O’Brien charges in

10.1  O’Brien to Faisal Iqbal, no run, starts with ball in the channel outside off, defended towards point

10.2  O’Brien to Faisal Iqbal, no run, nice line again, just outside off, left alone this time

10.3  O’Brien to Faisal Iqbal, no run, wider outside off, batsman is happy to leave it to the keeper, that was a 143kmh delivery

10.4  O’Brien to Faisal Iqbal, no run, 141kmh this time, but doesn’t bother the batsman as it is well outside off

10.5  O’Brien to Faisal Iqbal, OUT, O’Brien strikes in his first over! a 138kmh short ball, rises sharply, Iqbal looks to defend, gets it on the splice of the bat and lobs towards Guptill at gully

10.6  O’Brien to Mohammad Yousuf, no run, finishes with a length ball just outside off, 144kmh, steered towards backward gully by Mohammad Yousuf

12.1  O’Brien to Mohammad Yousuf, no run, good start to the over from O’Brien, full and just outside off, blocked by Yousuf

12.2  O’Brien to Mohammad Yousuf, no run, slightly wider outside off, shoulders arms

Three slips in place

12.3  O’Brien to Mohammad Yousuf, no run, on off this time, 140kmh, Yousuf gets behind the line and defends

12.4  O’Brien to Mohammad Yousuf, no run, testing over from O’Brien so far, a 143kmh bouncer now, Yousuf is quick to get under it

12.5  O’Brien to Mohammad Yousuf, no run, short of length on off, Yousuf opens the face and guides it towards gully, Guptill onto it

12.6  O’Brien to Mohammad Yousuf, no run, back of a length, angling into off, Yousuf gets forward and defends towards point, and that’s drinks

14.1  O’Brien to Mohammad Yousuf, no run, length ball on off, Yousuf defends to the leg side after walking forward

14.2  O’Brien to Mohammad Yousuf, no run, superb delivery from O’Brien, a stifled appeal from the keeper for caught behind, that one squared up yousuf who was fishing for it outside off, beaten, 140kmh

14.3  O’Brien to Mohammad Yousuf, no run, much better from Yousuf, a confident leave to a delivery just outside off

14.4  O’Brien to Mohammad Yousuf, no run, short ball from O’Brien, outside off, Yousuf sways out of the way, 143kmh

14.5  O’Brien to Mohammad Yousuf, no run, full and just outside off, Yousuf blocks it towards gully

14.6  O’Brien to Mohammad Yousuf, OUT, O’Brien has got Yousuf for a duck, massive breakthrough, Yousuf looks to slash a back of length ball outside off, away from the body, outside edges it to the left of second slip, where McIntosh latches onto it

16.1  O’Brien to Umar Akmal, no run, Umar Akmal gets forward and opens the face to get his first ball towards gully

16.2  O’Brien to Umar Akmal, no run, short ball, O’Brien keeping the pace up, 143kmh, not too far outside off, Akmal drops his wrists and sways out of the way to let the ball go

16.3  O’Brien to Umar Akmal, no run, another short one, gets behind the line and defends, bottom hand comes off as he plays

16.4  O’Brien to Umar Akmal, no run, a late decision to leave the ball, it was a lot fuller this time, just outside off

16.5  O’Brien to Umar Akmal, no run, back of a length, into offstump, 146kmh, Akmal walks across defends towards the leg side

16.6  O’Brien to Umar Akmal, no run, length ball into off, gets well forward and blocks towards gully

18.1  O’Brien to Imran Farhat, 3 runs, a bit of width, Farhat throws his bat at that, mistimed but enough on it to beat fly over extra cover, brings up the fifty

18.2  O’Brien to Umar Akmal, OUT, O’Brien, why are you leaving? short ball gets Umar Akmal this time, short ball 144kmh, Akmal prods at it and gives catching practice to Guptill at gully, another duck, 4.2-4-3-3 are O’Brien’s figures, a dream spell

18.3  O’Brien to Misbah-ul-Haq, no run, 145kmh, length ball outside off, Misbah lets it go to the keeper

18.4  O’Brien to Misbah-ul-Haq, no run, has Misbah fishing outside off at that one, nearly getting the edge

18.5  O’Brien to Misbah-ul-Haq, no run, fired in full towards middle stump this time, played towards square leg

18.6  O’Brien to Misbah-ul-Haq, OUT, O’Brien saves his best spell for his last Test, a short of length ball that straightened, Misbah feathers a regulation catch to McCullum

20.1  O’Brien to Kamran Akmal, no run, into legstump this time, blocked off the backfoot towards the leg side

20.2  O’Brien to Kamran Akmal, no run, back of a length outside off, defended towards the off side

20.3  O’Brien to Kamran Akmal, no run, 144kmh, beats the outside edge outside off, Kamran Akmal pushes hard at a straight ball and doesn’t connect

20.4  O’Brien to Kamran Akmal, no run, short ball on middle and off, defended off the backfoot

20.5  O’Brien to Kamran Akmal, no run, nearly had another one, poor poor shot from Kamran Akmal, it was short and wide outside off, Akmal has a waft at it, there was a half-shout for a caught-behind, hang on, New Zealand call for a review, HotSpot didn’t show anything though there seemed to be a sound as ball passed bat, Kamran survives

20.6  O’Brien to Kamran Akmal, 3 runs, punched off the backfoot through covers to get off the mark

Kamran succumbed to a quick climber from Martin and all the while, Imran Farhat was flashy outside the off stump and was very unconvincing with the short stuff. He carried his bat but never deserved the century he ended up with, especially as he showed no sense of responsibility with wickets tumbling at the other end. Don’t tell me he was trying to counter attack.

Tuffey looked easily negotiable. He was short on pace and gave the impression that age was catching up with him. I thought Vettori should have come into the attack half an hour into the secod session as Aameer and Farhat weren’t broken through.

Im praying for a big total from the Kiwi batsmen tomorrow. If there was a time for them to deliver, it’s now. Bat your lives out, for O Brien deserves a grand farewell.

P.S. Kiwi fans have some good news. O Ber has admitted he hasn’t received good news on his UK visa and that his departure could be delayed by months. The Australian visit is round the corner.

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