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Fleming leads from the front as Kiwis tame Pak

New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming cracked his sixth Test century as New Zealand built a solid base to be 295 for six at stumps on the opening day.

india Updated: Dec 19, 2003 13:09 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming cracked his sixth Test century as New Zealand built a solid base to be 295 for six at stumps on the opening day of the first cricket Test against Pakistan here Friday.

Showing no evidence of the abdominal strain that had troubled him for the past month, Fleming scored freely to all points of the ground to be unbeaten on 125 including 20 boundaries.

Although Pakistan fought their way back into the match with four wickets in the final session it was not the start they expected when Inzamam-ul-Haq won the toss and relished having New Zealand bat on what had the hallmarks of a bowlers' track.

Even though there was a green tinge on the pitch and scattered cloud overhead, the conditions did not hold the expected fears for the New Zealand batsmen who were assisted by a flood of no balls and the late withdrawal of the tourists' trump card, Shoaib Akhtar.

Lou Vincent was out early with the score at 16, but the arrival of Fleming at the crease saw New Zealand take charge.

He started cautiously before ripping three boundries in one over from Shabbir Ahmed and then going on to feature in century partnerships with Mark Richardson and then Scott Styris.

Richardson reached 44 before he authored his own dismissal.

After surviving two run-out appeals, he chanced his luck once too often calling Fleming through for a quick single but failing to outsprint Umar Gul who picked up the ball on his follow-through and whipped off the bails at the striker's end.

Scott Styris (33) and Craig McMillan (22) both took the cudgel to Danish Kaneria before the young off-spinner tempted them once to often and both were caught at slip by Taufeeq Umar.

Chris Cairns and Jacob Oram had brief stays at the crease before Robbie Hart brought some stability at the end to rise out the final 10 overs and be seven not out at stumps.

Without Akhtar, the weight of leading the attack fell on Mohammad Sami who was not able to rise to the challenge and instead led an atrocious spree of no balls being guilty of firing 15 of the 30 sent down in the day.

Shabbir and Kaneria shared the wickets, while Gul toiled hard but could only claim the run out as reward after being thrust thrust into the side at the last minute to replace Akhtar.

The Rawalpindi Express was was pulled out an hour before the game due to calf and hamstring strains.

Pakistan manager Haroon Rashid said the injuries, picked up in the warmup match against Auckland, were not serious but it was feared he would not get through a significant bowling workload.

It left Akhtar, the world's fastest bowler who has 107 wickets from 28 tests, still waiting to play his first test in New Zealand.

On the last tour here three years ago, Akhtar was sent home before the Test series after his bowling action was reported as suspect.

First Published: Dec 19, 2003 10:38 IST