AAMIR SOHAIL was at both his heartiest and most resilient in Auckland yesterday, guiding Pakistan over some awkward pot-holes to a five-wicket victory as the first Test against New Zealand ended with half the playing hours unused.
On a substandard pitch that had reduced batsmen to impotence while claiming 30 wickets during the first two days, Pakistan, left to make 138 after New Zealand's second-innings collapse for 110, appeared primed to maintain an inept trend as the home seamers made some telling inroads early on the third morning.
Aamir's opening partner, Saeed Anwar, and his captain, Salim Malik, both fell to Richard de Groen while Simon Doull accepted return catches to account for Asif Mujtaba and Basit Ali to leave Pakistan, who had resumed on 3 for 0, shipping plenty of water on 73 for 4.
That they recovered was almost solely down to Aamir. By the time the enigmatic opener was caught at silly mid-on off De Groen - the first of three catches for Bryan Young - his dominance had been such that he had made 78 of the 119 runs on the board. In registering the highest score of the match - and one of only two half-centuries - Aamir proved that neither crease occupation nor fluent strokeplay were impossible, a point emphasised by Rashid Latif's winning blow, a soaring six off Shane Thomson.
Victory, though, was marred by fears that Mushtaq Ahmed's back problems may rule him out of the remainder of the tour.
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