Australia lead Test series 1-0

Australia took the remaining four wickets for 38 runs and then polished off the 106 required before lunch to go one-nil up in the two match National Bank Test series against the BLACKCAPS.

The BLACKCAPS were unable to repeat yesterday’s defiance with Australia’s main hurdle, Brendon McCullum, out in the fourth over.

McCullum did manage to bring up his fifth Test century before edging a Ryan Harris delivery to first slip.   His 106 came off 187 balls and included 13 boundaries and one six in trying conditions and against a quality bowling attack.

The other stumbling block for Australia was Daryl Tuffey who was left stranded on 47 not out after his fellow bowlers fell cheaply.

Fast bowler Harris was the pick of the Australian attack taking four for 77 while spinner Nathan Hauritz did a tidy job considering his massive workload, taking three for 119 from 49 overs.

Opener Phil Hughes wasted no time, lashing 86 off 75 deliveries to with the winning runs coming from the final ball of the morning session without a wicket falling.

In the end the BLACKCAPS salvaged some positives after a dismal first inning total of just 157 signalled that the match was heading for a much earlier finish.

A fighting stand by the openers B.J. Watling and Tim McIntosh and a record partnership between Daniel Vettori and McCullum along with a promising debut from Brent Arnel will give the team some confidence ahead of the second Test in Hamilton on Saturday.

Day 4: BLACKCAPS batsmen toil in stormy conditions

A resilient batting display by Daniel Vettori, Brendon McCullum and Daryl Tuffey ensured the first Test against Australia will go to five days.

Wellington today was blasted by fierce Northerly winds that caused mayhem for the ground-staff before play at the Basin Reserve this morning. 

At one stage the covers were blown off the pitch and the same gust caught a large coversheet that dragged ten people several metres before it was brought under control.  
Many, particularly those Australians in the crowd, predicted that this would be the last session of the game.  They were to be disappointed as Vettori and McCullum batted through some very trying conditions.
By lunch the BLACKCAPS were 266 for five with Vettori on 60 and McCullum on 39.  It was a victory of sorts for the BLACKCAPS, taking their first clear session win of the game.
Bad light intervened just after lunch and when play resumed the New Zealand batsmen continued to toil away both against the elements and against a tiring Australian attack.  McCullum pasted 50 and New Zealand 300 as the pair overtook the New Zealand record for the sixth wicket against Australia of 123.
It was to last only another three runs, with Hauritz bowling Vettori around his legs for 77.  McCullum at the other end was all class, smashing one ball out of the park and onto the road outside the stadium. 
Play was once again halted by bad light just before tea with the BLACKCAPS batsmen happy to leave the field. 

The blustery Northerly did not let up at all, and it is a credit to Australian team and the New Zealand batsmen that play continued for most of the day.  In the end McCullum is still at the crease on 94 along with Daryl Tuffey proving to be a willing ally on 23.
The BLACKCAPS will resume tomorrow on 369 for six, a lead of 67 runs.  If they can build on that lead tomorrow, and if the weather plays a part, the game may be heading for an unlikely draw.

Day 3: Australia in control at the end of day three

The BLACKCAPS ended day three 115 runs behind with five wickets in hand and in danger of crumbling to an innings defeat against a rampant Australian line up.

At the end play yesterday New Zealand had a glimmer of hope on the batting front.  By the end of the first session of the third day New Zealand’s first innings glimmer had been stubbed out by a rampant and ruthless Australian seam attack.
Within an hour of the first ball of the day the BLACKCAPS were all sitting back in the pavilion contemplating the enforced follow-on. Six wickets inside sixty minutes for the addition of only 45 runs was a disastrous collapse by the New Zealand team, skittled for 157 and 302 runs behind Australia.
It was a harsh lesson for New Zealand, outplayed by the Australia in the first two days then routed in the first hour of the third. The only BLACKAPS player who put up some fight was Captain Daniel Vettori, who put on the only meaningful partnership of 69 with Martin Guptill.
A mixture of poor running, bad shot selection and aggressive Australian bowling was the undoing of the New Zealand line-up.  Doug Bollinger’s five for 28 was an outstanding performance to rate with Michael Clarke’s 168 as the difference between the two teams.
The BLACKCAPS openers walked out for the second time in a row needing to give the home side a solid start for some hope of saving the match.   Tim McIntosh and B.J. Watling did that, taking the score to 70 before Watling was adjudged LBW off Bollinger. 

Peter Ingram again fell short, caught behind for one while at the other end McIntosh was starting to show the sort of resolve that has been missing so far in this match.  The tall left hander watched as Ross Taylor departed for 25 and Guptill for six with the BLACKCAPS slumping to 136 for four.
A good looking partnership of 47 with Daniel Vettori was undone by the spin of Nathan Hauritz, with McIntosh finding an inside edge and being caught for 83.

His innings was the highlight of a terrible days batting from New Zealand with Vettori (18*) and Brendon McCullum (4*) set to resume tomorrow with the scorecard reading 187 for five.

Day 2: Vettori and Guptill hold innings together

Daniel Vettori and Martin Guptill hold the key for the BLACKCAPS after their top order fell cheaply in pursuit of Australia’s massive first innings total.

The Australian batters made hay today as a good strip became even better for batting at the Basin Reserve.     
Michael Clarke and Marcus North continued their march forward, dominating the first session and passing a number of milestones along the way. 

Clarke passed 150 shortly and at lunch the pair had passed the fifth wicket record partnership against New Zealand and Australia were 405 for four.
The partnership finally ended after the break with Vettori bringing Clarke forward for a smart leg-side stumping by McCullum.  Clarke’s score of 168 was his highest in Test cricket while his partnership of 253 with North took Australia from 176 for four to 429 for five and into a dominant position in the match.
Marcus North went on to hit an unbeaten 112 before the declaration came at 459 for five.
While the declaration may have seemed slightly early, the Australians wasted no time in removing the first of the New Zealand openers.  Doug Bollinger had B.J. Watling LBW for a golden duck in his first over.
Peter Ingram went three overs before tea thanks to a freakish piece of footwork from Mitchel Johnson.  The ball dropped in front of him and Tim McIntosh set off for a quick single only to have Johnson kick the ball into the stumps at the strikers end, leaving Ingram well short.

The BLACKACPS went to tea at 20 for two and struggling to assert any influence on the match.  Their problems were compounded when McIntosh was caught at gulley off a thick outside edge to leave the home side reeling at 31 for three.
Things went from bad to worse when Ross Taylor edged Bollinger to third slip as they slumped to 43 for four.
Some hope came at last from a resolute stand by Daniel Vettori and Martin Guptill.  The pair took the BLACKCAPS through to the end of play and demonstrated the sort of resolve that will be needed to save this match.
Once again Vettori led from the front with his arrival at the crease stemming the flow of wickets and gave the run rate a much-needed boost as he ended the day on 42 not out. 

Guptill was content to bat time and will resume tomorrow on 17 with the BLACKCAPS on 108 for four.

* Image of Daniel Vettori and Martin Guptill celebrating their 50 run partnership.

Day 1: Clarke ton puts Australia in control

Michael Clarke’s 14th Test century has put Australian in a strong position at the end of day one.

It was a big day for the Basin Reserve today, celebrating 400th first class match and 51st Test match.
Stunning weather and a much-anticipated first day against Australia was the draw-card for a large crowd that grew steadily throughout the day.
Daniel Vettori continued his rotten run of luck with the toss this tour, losing his sixth on the trot against Australian captain Ricky Ponting.  Ponting was quick to put the BLACKCAPS into the field, electing to bat first on a seamer-friendly Basin wicket.
New Zealand chose a four-man pace attack and were quickly rewarded.  Debutant Brent Arnel removed replacement Aussie opener Phil Hughes in his first Test over, caught behind for 20.
The arrival of Ponting steadied things for the visitors, and he and Simon Katich took Australia to the end of the first session and lunch with the score on 93 for one.
If the Australians had the better of the first session, the BLACKCAPS soon erased the advantage with two quick wickets after lunch.  A sharp piece of fielding from B.J. Watling ran out Ponting for 41 with the score on 105, heralding a much anticipated return to the crease for Michael Clarke.
Watling was in the action again shortly afterwards, taking a sharp catch to his right at second slip to dismiss Michael Hussey for four to have the visitors teetering on 115 for three.
At tea Australia had nudged their way to 163 for three with the New Zealand bowling attack doing a good job of containing the Australians. 
Arnel struck again in the final session, trapping Katich in front for a well-compiled 79. But wickets were few and hard to come by as the Australian pair of Clarke and Marcus North slowly wrestled the initiative in favour of Australia.
By the end of play on day one Australia have the game firmly in their control.

Clarke and North were patient and the start of their innings and managed wear down the New Zealand attack.  After the drinks break in the final session they flicked the switch and started plundering the BLACKCAPS bowlers. 

By stumps the pair had taken the score through to 316 for four with Clarke unbeaten on 100 and North on 52.

New Zealand will be left wondering how they are going to break this ominous looking 140 runs partnership.

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