Persistent rain ruled out any chance of play in the second and third sessions after Pakistan, having chosen an all-seam attack on a green pitch, picked up two New Zealand wickets after winning the toss. New Zealand batted positively, going after anything marginally loose, and scored 77 runs in 21 overs before rain forced an early lunch, 15 minutes before schedule. With intermittent showers continuing to afflict Seddon Park, umpires called off play at 4pm.
It left the Test match suspended in an interesting though still embryonic position with Jeet Raval, carrying on from his impressive debut in Christchurch, batting on 35 and Ross Taylor, who seemed unbothered by the pterygium in his left eye, on 29 off 20 balls.
Taylor looked far more assured than he had done in either South Africa or India, lining up in a more side-on stance than normal, and, perhaps as a consequence, lifting his bat up behind him rather than out towards gully as is usually the case, allowing it to come down straighter in defence while having no adverse effect on his traditional strength, the square-cut. Of the six fours he hit, five came off this shot.
This was also because Pakistan bowled too short and too wide at him, and in general weren’t as accurate as the conditions demanded. Sohail Khan and Wahab Riaz were particularly guilty of spraying the ball around, while Imran Khan, returning to the Test line-up after more than a year, looked rusty, often slanting the ball too wide of off stump to make Raval play.
It was a curious unraveling after Mohammad Amir had begun as well as he possibly could have, every ball of his first over tight on off stump, curling away from a good length or just short of it, forcing the two left-handed openers to play, and produced four edges and two plays-and-misses. Two of the edges carried to Sami Aslam at first slip. He dropped the first, at knee height while falling to his left, to reprieve Raval, and caught the second, to send back Tom Latham for a first-ball duck.
Aside from that let-off and a couple of loose drives away from his body, Raval showed impressive judgment outside off, particularly against the right-armers angling the ball across him. He profited particularly from nudges off his legs and pulls, the latter shot rather effective on a pitch where the ball came through with true bounce but not a lot of pace.
Kane Williamson looked in excellent touch in his 42-ball stay at the crease, easing two effortless drives through the off side when Amir overpitched, and defending with the softest hands in the game. When Amir dropped a difficult return catch in the fifth over of the morning, off a firmly hit straight drive, it looked as if Williamson might go on and make a substantial score, but it wasn’t to be, as he fell to Sohail after a Pakistan review.
Getting the ball to nibble in from outside off stump, Sohail produced a tentative, half-forward poke, and the bowler and all the fielders behind the wicket went up instinctively when they heard a click through to the keeper. Simon Fry gave it not out on the field, and Ian Gould, the third umpire, overturned his decision; it seemed a tight call to make. HotSpot did not register an edge, and the Real-Time Snickometer seemed to show a spike an instant after the ball passed his inside edge, suggesting it may have hit his elbow. Some of the TV commentators, however, said they heard a double-noise, indicating the ball may have kissed the edge and then hit Williamson’s elbow.
Karthik Krishna swamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo