Guptill breaks half-ton barrier

Opener finally gets past 50 as NZ recover from first-ball wicket in first Test.

Guptill and Sharma
Mohammad Asif claps himself after giving Guptill some chin music [GALLO/GETTY]

Martin Guptill said he was relieved to finally break the 50-run barrier after coming agonisingly close to a half-century on two occasions this year.

The New Zealand opener hit 60 as his side 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.

Guptill scored his previous best of 49 against India in Wellington in April following a 48 in Hamilton in March.

His knock on Tuesday came as he shared a 117-run third wicket partnership with Ross Taylor’s 94.

“I would have liked to get more but I’m happy to get past 50 for the first time,” Guptill said.

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 they had won the toss and bowled.

Mohammad Asif had Daniel Flynn caught by wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal for 8 to leave New Zealand at 27 for two.

But Guptill and Taylor restored the New Zealand innings.
Both batsmen had nervous moments as Aamer, Asif and Umar Gul made good use of a greenish wicket and mild but overcast conditions after captain Mohammad Yousuf won the toss.

Dropped twice

Guptill was dropped twice, offering a chance to Imran Farhat at second slip off Gul when he was 26 and another to Gul at deep fine leg off Aamer when he was 32 and New Zealand on 48-2.

First day scorecard

New Zealand first innings

T McIntosh b Aamer 0
M Guptill c Fawad Alam b Aamer 60
D Flynn c Akmal b Asif 8
R Taylor c Farhat b Ajmal 94
P Fulton b Asif 29
G Elliott c Akmal b Asif 8
B McCullum not out 25
D Vettori not out 40
Extras 12

Total (for six, 90 overs) 276
FoW 1-0, 2-27, 3-144, 4-192, 5-210, 6-211

He 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 reached his half century from 87 balls and moved steadily toward his fifth Test century before driving at a wider delivery from off-spinner Saeed Ajmal and edging a catch to Farhat at slip.

His departure triggered a mini collapse which restored some command of the first day to the tourists.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies