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November 25, 2009

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Pakistan, Kiwi share opening day honors

ROSS Taylor scored 94 and Martin Guptill 60 as hosts New Zealand overcame the loss of a wicket first ball to reach 276 for six by stumps on the opening day of the first test against Pakistan in Dunedin yesterday.

Teenage paceman Mohammad Aamer bowled Tim McIntosh with the first ball of the three-test series, firing a fast yorker through the opener's timid defensive shot to give Pakistan a perfect start after it had won the toss and elected to bowl.

Mohammad Asif had Daniel Flynn caught by wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal for 8 to leave New Zealand at 27 for two but Guptill, with his first test half century, and Taylor, with his fifth, restored the New Zealand innings in a 117-run, third-wicket partnership.

Both batsmen had nervous moments as Aamer, Asif and Umar Gul -- the Pakistan pace trio -- made good use of a greenish wicket and overcast conditions.

Guptill was dropped twice as he improved his previous highest test score of 49 to 60, reaching his maiden half century from 100 balls with nine fours. He offered a chance to Imran Farhat at second slip off Gul when he was 26 and New Zealand was 37-2 and another to Gul at deep fine leg off Aamer when he was 32 and New Zealand was 48-2.

Guptill played some superb straight drives but his downfall was, again, an impulsive pull shot which provided a catch to Fawad Alam off Aamer.

Taylor struggled early in his innings to judge line and bounce, ducking into short pitched deliveries and taking time to perfect his footwork. He went on to play an innings characteristically peppered with classic shots, including a number of crisp square or cover drives and a six over midwicket which landed outside the leafy University Oval.

Taylor also provided the first test this season of the contentious Umpire Decision Review System when an appeal for LBW by Asif, declined by West Indies umpire Billy Doctrove, was referred to television umpire Rudi Koertzen for re-appraisal.

After reference to video replays and ball tracking technology, Koertzen upheld Doctrove's decision.

Taylor reached his half century from 87 balls and moved steadily toward his fifth test century before driving at a wider delivery from offspinner Saeed Ajmal and edging a catch to Farhat at slip.

New Zealand was 192-4 when Taylor was out but his departure triggered a mini collapse which restored some command of the first day to the tourists.


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