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New Zealand survive Sami scare

Bad light and rain conspired to end the first Test between New Zealand and Pakistan in a draw.

india Updated: Dec 24, 2003 01:58 IST

Bad light and rain conspired to end the first cricket Test between New Zealand and Pakistan in a draw here Tuesday after a fiery bowling spell by Mohammad Sami had given Pakistan a slim chance of glory.

Sami destroyed the top order as New Zealand collapsed to seven for 52 in their second innings before struggling back to 96 for eight, a lead of 196 before the rain intervened with 35 overs left in the day.

In a game that had been dominated by New Zealand for three days and then appeared destined for a draw on the fourth, Sami rewrote the script with a withering spell of pace bowling in the dying hours.

"There were a lot of jitters and the game was definitely in the balance," admitted New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming, who won the man-of-the-match award for his first innings 192.

"We were the only ones who could lose the match and we played accordingly."

With the morning session lost because of the weather, New Zealand abandoned hopes of scoring quick runs in search of a result and the afternoon loomed as a batting exercise.

After 10 overs the score had edged up from four to 13 when Sami struck, taking out Lou Vincent (4) and Stephen Fleming (0) in the space of five balls.

In a 13-over spell, in which he fired the ball down repeatedly in excess of 150 kilometres an hour, Sami took four for 32. He then took another wicket after tea to finish with the remarkable figures of five for 44 from 16 overs.

His midas touch extended to the field where a brilliant throw from the deep had Craig McMillan run out at a time when New Zealand needed to survive rather than pick up stray runs.

Umar Gul was nearly as menacing as Sami, and had Mark Richardson caught behind and then Chris Cairns clean bowled in successive balls. Jacob Oram staved off the hattrick.

When it appeared as if Pakistan could snatch a victory that had never looked likely over the first four days, Daniel Vettori and Oram staged a desperate rescue mission with New Zealand's best partnership of 43.

Oram was New Zealand's top scorer, unbeaten on 23 after 85 minutes at the crease.

The New Zealand side, which had cursed the rain that interrupted play when they had the momentum on the fourth day, were in the end thankful for the final downpour bringing the game to an end.

The second and final Test in the series starts at the Basin Reserve in Wellington on Friday.

First Published: Dec 23, 2003 10:24 IST