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Tuesday, November 11, 2014
A few lineout wobbles against
England, along with the concession
of a rare penalty try, will help to
focus the minds of the All Black
pack this week.
The England team competed well
at lineout time at Twickenham —
with the All Blacks occasionally
doing the hard work in winning the
ball in the air only to let it slip —
before a collapsed scrum on their
line in the final minutes prompted
referee Nigel Owens to award the
score which automatically made
hooker Keven Mealamu think of
the week ahead.
“Oh, man. When it happens,
you’re thinking about today, which
is a review day for us,” Mealamu
said. “ We had won the game and
I ... wasn’t looking forward to
Monday. But in saying that, it gives
us another avenue to get better.
We’ ll break that down
and look at how we fix those
As he looks ahead of the test
against Scotland, Mealamu cannot
help but reflect on his career.
If he takes the field it will be his
362nd first-class game and he will
go one ahead of Colin Meads’ New
“I’ve been lucky enough to have
some great people around me to
help me get to where I am today.
“I didn’t even think I’d leave New
Zealand,” he said as he remembered
his rugby start as a flanker for
“A lot of the opportunities I’ve
had have opened up through rugby
and the people I’ve been able to
meet have been special. Rugby has
been a big part of my life and I’m
very grateful for that.”
Lock Jeremy Thrush, sitting
alongside Mealamu at the media
conference at the team’s central
Edinburgh hotel, said of playing
with one of the more durable
characters of the New Zealand
game: “It ’s pretty inspiring. I don’t
want to talk too much about him
because he’s sitting right here, but
it does help you. It makes you step
up and you don’t want to let them
Mealamu has played 120 tests but
has come up against Scotland only
once — in 2008, his first test as
The test was notable for the
players running on to the pitch
in almost complete darkness,
which made for a slightly different
“ We couldn’t run out there like we
usually do. When you run out on
to a stadium like Murrayfield you
want to sprint out of the gates but
it was actually lucky the lights were
off because everyone was tip-toeing
over the (TV ) cables and stuff.”
Just as Pakistan’s mantelpiece was about
to snap under the weight of statistics,
captain Misbah-ul-Haq declared.
They had eased to 566 for three; the
first time in test history a team’s top
five batsmen have made over 80 in an
Pakistan’s first two partnerships
passing 150 was also uncharted territory
before Younis Khan and Misbah added
193 for the fourth wicket which saw
both complete centuries.
Misbah has three consecutive test
centuries; Younis has four in his last five
Pakistan was relentless, considering
Ahmed Shehzad made 176, Azhar Ali
87 and Mohammad Hafeez 96.
The scorecard was so surreal it could
have come from the script to a 12th
Openers Brendon McCullum and
Tom Latham resisted seven overs to get
Earlier, New Zealand’s bowlers
persevered but the fielders let them
down with dropped catches.
There was brief respite in the middle
session when Ish Sodhi produced a
candidate for ‘best ball bowled by a New
Zealand leg spinner’ to clip the top of
Azhar’s off stump.
That ‘reduced’ Pakistan to 373 for three
which offered cold comfort as Misbah
strode to the wicket.
The run fest could have been stymied,
slightly. In the 138th over, with Pakistan
422 for three, Sodhi coaxed Misbah into
a slog sweep, only for the ball to sky in
front of point. Mark Craig hesitated and
eventually grasped air.
The following Sodhi over, Jimmy
Neesham splattered a regulation catch
at cover, as Misbah teed off again.
There cannot be anything more
demoralising for a bowler like Sodhi, on
the cusp of cracking the highest level of
the game, when he is so reliant on others’
hands to secure his future. One for 162
off 43 overs looks grim, yet he was the
most potent bowler.
He remains the country’s best bowling
hope in this test and for the next decade
on the sub-continent. New Zealand
cannot afford for him to be disheartened.
“It was hard to watch those go down,”
Trent Boult said. “ We’d worked hard
to stick at them and not let them
have anything. Their batsmen showed
patience and really didn’t give us much.
They know these conditions well, so
good on them. ”
“A couple of days in the dirt tends to
do that,” Corey Anderson said, reflecting
on the spills. “ They were little slips in
Anderson produced venom before
lunch, dismissing Ahmed Shehzad hit-
wicket. The opener shaped to pull but
missed; his right temple took the brunt.
His bat hit the stumps as he hit the
ground. The New Zealanders celebrated
while Shehzad writhed in mental and
physical agony. He was subsequently
taken to hospital for a scan; the diagnosis
was a minor fracture to the skull.
Shehzad became the 12th player and
fourth Pakistani to have been dismissed
‘hit wicket ’ by New Zealand in test
Scoreboards can be deceptive. The
New Zealand bowlers — and there are
six recognised experts in this XI — did
not do much wrong. A run rate of 3.31
was testament to that.
Tim Southee and Boult again pitched
up to make the most of the new ball,
dropped in the odd calculated short one,
and tested their opponents around the
Like Sodhi, Craig also offered flight
but the batsmen were so assured there
was barely a chance to test the vocal
chords for an lbw, or even achieve a
moral victory with a one-hand, one-
The first and only review for an
unsuccessful lbw came in the 159th over
when Pakistan were 508 for three.
McCullum rolled his captain’s dice
with the fielding positions. He had two
short mid-wickets and a silly mid-off
for Boult; vice-versa for Southee plus a
straight silly mid-on; and a leg slip, short
leg and short mid-wicket for Craig’s off-
spin. Nothing doing.
“ I don’t think I’ve seen a wicket that
flat,” Boult said. “ The ball was a mess.
It swung early but got chewed up so
quickly. I’m not sure if ‘punishing’ is
the right word but it was an extremely
hard couple of days’ toil. Them pushing
through to 566 for three is tough to
stomach but one positive is we’re 15
“We’ve got agoodtracktobat onifwe
can get close to them.”
However, the pitch is due to decay.
New Zealand needs a comparable
first innings total before placing faith in
Sodhi and Craig to gain second innings
traction. — NZ ME
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Forward effort has to
improve, says Mealamu
Black Caps face
PICTURE: Getty Images
Pakistan’s Ahmed Shehzad is hit on the head and tumbles into his wicket from the bowling of Black Cap Corey
Anderson today at Sheikh Zayed stadium, in Abu Dhabi.
All Black midfielder Ma’a Nonu
has signed with French club
Toulon, according to newspaper
The paper said Nonu, who is
currently sidelined with a broken
arm, will make the move after next
year’s World Cup.
It is the latest story in a long line
of speculation about the future of
the Hurricanes player.
The newspaper also said All
Blacks and Blues prop Charlie
Faumuina had agreed a deal to
join Paris club Racing Metro. It is
not the first time owner Mourad
Boudjellal has tried to lure Nonu to
the South of France.
Nonu, who will be 33 at next
year’s Rugby World Cup, has played
94 tests for the All Blacks and his
latest contract with the NZRU
finishes after the tournament.
He has been playing professional
rugby in New Zealand since 2002,
with the exception of a brief stint in
Japan before the 2012 Super Rugby
mates Jerry Collins, Tana Umaga
and fellow All Black Sonny Bill
Williams have all previously played
The side is currently captained by
former All Black Carl Hayman and
includes Ali Williams and Chris
Masoe — all former team-mates of
Nonu is missing the All Blacks
northern tour after breaking his
arm in September and will return
to action for the Hurricanes at the
start of the Super Rugby season.
Reports Nonu has signed with Toulon
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