Southee, Wagner put New Zealand in box seat v Pakistan in second test
His batting may infuriate New Zealand's fans, but Tim Southee's new-ball bowling is still capable of generating much love.
The Black Caps swing bowler produced an admirable spell that - coupled with a burst of wickets from Neil Wagner - enabled the hosts to end day of the second cricket test against Pakistan at Hamilton's Seddon Park in a position of dominance.
At stumps, Pakistan were 76-5 - trailing NZ's first innings by 195 with a shaky tail to come.
Southee's right-arm swing and variation did in the Pakistan top order, with his working over and eventual elimination of veteran star Younis Khan a delight to watch.
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"He bowled beautifully - his set-ups to Younis Khan and [Azhar] Ali was great bowling," said NZ wicketkeeper BJ Watling.
The 27-year-old will be eyeing what surprisingly would be just his fifth five-wicket bag in an innings in tests - his last was against England at Lord's in May, 2013. There's been seven sets of "four-for" since, while he now has 185 test scalps - fifth on the all-time list of New Zealand's most prolific bowlers.
Wagner went over the century mark of test victims in the first test in Christchurch and picked up two more in successive deliveries - with Pakistan debutant Mohammad Rizwan making a golden duck.
Southee's batting is less aesthetically pleasing - a barrage of bouncers from Wahab Riaz had him hopping, swaying and swiping mid-afternoon, with Pakistan skipper Azhar Ali employing his first slip on the boundary, expecting an edge to fly.
Of course, in among the evasive action there was the expected swats from Southee that raced to or cleared the rope. He got to 29 off 28 balls and Pakistan's approach was looking ill-judged until Sohail Khan got smart and bowled his rival quick with a delicious slower ball out of the back of the hand that barely registered on the speed radar.
By contrast, it was the steady hand of Watling that guided New Zealand to what then seemed like a par score in their first innings.
The Black Caps were dismissed for 271 soon after tea, with Watling 49 not out.
That left Watling agonisingly short of his 13th test half-century, but knowing he'd played a sterling role. Watling was looking to break a run of nine test innings without a fifty, but when the second new ball helped Pakistan pick up the wickets of Matt Henry and Neil Wagner in quick succession, Watling had to be content with his unbeaten contribution which featured seven fours in 125 balls.
As expected, the 31-year-old - who was yesterday named ahead of Luke Ronchi as NZ's ODI wicketkeeper-batsman for the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy series against Australia - produced a mixture of solid defence and patient leaves, interspersed by enough scoring shots to keep New Zealand's tally ticking upwards on tricky wicket against a determined four-pronged pace attack.
"That's a pretty good day for us," Watling said soon after stumps.
"I thought the work we did with the ball tonight has put us into a pretty good position.
"It was great to get through to 270 - we could have been bowled out for 200, 210, but if the tail chips in and plays positively it puts them under pressure. They bowled well and asked a lot of questions and every now and then it would just do something.
"It was definitely a challenge and we're pretty happy with 270 and getting the five wickets tonight really helps out."
Watling, Jeet Raval (55) and Colin de Grandhomme (37) were the pick of New Zealand's batsmen as they battled manfully on a wicket which was still offering assistance to Pakistan's pacemen. There was the odd lapse in concentration from the latter two among some determined efforts to blunt the Pakistan attack.
De Grandhomme undid much of his good work when he drove loosely at the first ball after lunch and edged Imran Khan to wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed. The glovesman was confident he'd snared a nick from de Grandhomme, while the bowler was less enthused and umpire Sundaram Ravi didn't agree with the Pakistani appeal.
Visiting skipper Azhar Ali opted for TV umpire Ian Gould to have a closer look via the DRS, and Gould felt there was enough evidence to overturn the on-field decision.
The Black Caps lead the two-test series 1-0 after winning the first test in Christchurch.