Sun, Dec 28, 2003 - Page 23 News List

New Zealand strengthens position against Pakistan

AP , WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand gained a slight advantage on the second day of the second cricket test Saturday, holding Pakistan to 52-2 in reply to its first innings of 366.

Mark Richardson made 82 and Jacob Oram 97 to direct New Zealand's escape from its tenuous position at 151-5 overnight. Pakistan lost opener Imran Farhat and the dangerous Yasir Hameed in 32 overs before stumps to allow New Zealand to take a slight initiative into the third day.

Oram's innings, his second half century and highest score in tests, was the most decisive contribution to a day on which batsmen struggled to play with authority.

He joined Richardson when New Zealand was 171-6, when the opener was attempting to stop the decline of the home team's innings.

Richardson was once again the anchor of the New Zealand innings. He stayed at the crease for 439 minutes, from the first ball of the first day through the middle of the fifth session, to take on Pakistan's principal pace attack. Oram gave him dedicated support and the pair added 76 for the seventh wicket to give some force to New Zealand's decision to bat first on a placid pitch.

When Richardson was out in the 107th over, Oram took up the cause and carried New Zealand's total towards respectability.

Oram's most significant contribution was to see off the second new ball with Richardson, the fiery spells of Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Sami, at a time when New Zealand's innings was perilously balanced.

"The whole test probably rests on the morning session tomorrow,'' Oram said. ``If we can nip out a couple of them and maybe have them five or six down by lunch, it will be heavily in our favor."

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