It took Australia longer than they expected, but Phillip Hughes’ final-day blast allowed them to finish off New Zealand and gain a 1-0 lead heading into the final Test in Hamilton on Saturday. Brendon McCullum’s inspired 104 forced the visitors to chase 106, a target they achieved without loss before lunch thanks to Hughes’ aggressive 86 off 75 balls.
After spending time in the field over four days, Ryan Harris, the debutant, sealed a quick finish of New Zealand’s second innings, taking 4 for 77 as the hosts were dismissed for 407. Hughes, who grabbed 12 fours and a six, was then in a hurry to end the game and sped to the 10-wicket victory in 23 overs. It was left to Simon Katich, who played the anchor with 18, to take the winning single on the final ball before lunch.
The upbeat display will give Hughes confidence for the next Test he plays, but he will probably have to wait as he is seat-warming for the injured Shane Watson in this game. Daniel Vettori came on and his first delivery was hit by Hughes through cover for four and his fourth effort went for six to midwicket. Hughes charged down the wicket, wasn’t put off by not being near the pitch of the ball, and swiped it flat and so hard that it came back damaged after hitting the bitumen in the car park.
Hughes had collected 10 from the opening over of the innings from Chris Martin and added another 10 from Vettori’s first six offerings. He followed that with a trio of boundaries off Martin – an on-drive, a glide through the cordon and a straight drive – and was dropped at second slip by Tim McIntosh off Brent Arnel.
The chance didn’t concern Hughes, who was playing his seventh Test, and in the same over he brought up his half-century from 43 balls. Cut boundaries continued to come easily in his best five-day performance since his debut tour of South Africa last year.
New Zealand used up both their umpiring reviews in two overs early in the innings, but neither Martin’s appeal against Hughes nor Arnel’s shout against Katich were overturned by the third umpire. Katich’s was closer, with the ball tracking showing it hitting the top of the bails, but it was not decisive enough to change Asad Rauf’s not-out call.
Following their courageous fight on the fourth day, New Zealand were unable to repeat their resistance. McCullum, the main obstacle, was removed in the fourth over after bringing up his fifth Test century almost instantly. He sliced behind point from the second ball of the morning to go to 98 and gained a thick edge to third man from Bollinger’s next effort for another boundary.
The celebration included ripping off his helmet and raising his arms to the dressing room, but it wasn’t long before he pushed on to the back foot and edged Harris to Michael Clarke. There weren’t many people at the ground but they were all appreciative of McCullum’s performance, which included 13 fours and one six from his 187 balls. The innings showed McCullum’s ability to mix long periods of defence with bouts of attacking brilliance and gave his side some short-lived hope
New Zealand began on 369 for 6, holding a lead of 67, and after losing their last specialist batsman the job was left to Daryl Tuffey and his bowling team-mates. Tim Southee gave Harris his third wicket when nicking to Clarke without scoring and Brent Arnel (3) was lbw in Harris’ next over.
Harris had a chance for a five-wicket haul when Tuffey drove hard back at him but the ball went down in his follow-through. Mitchell Johnson ended the innings by bowling Martin, leaving Tuffey stranded after contributing a valuable 47, as the hosts lost 4 for 38 in less than an hour. Tuffey’s effort was even more admirable considering he was carrying a fractured hand – he was hit by Johnson – that is likely to keep him out for at least a month.
Harris collected six wickets for the game while Nathan Hauritz had 3 for 119 from 49 overs in the second innings after spending most of yesterday bowling into the gale-force wind. After the awful weather on Sunday, the conditions were clear and sunny, which was a shame for the hosts who wanted some more rain. New Zealand were forced to follow-on after scoring 157 on Saturday and produced a strong performance to get so far ahead, but they will need two solid innings if they are to trouble the tourists in Hamilton.
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010 and is filed under Cricket, General.
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