Late wickets foil New Zealand

Three late wickets ruined New Zealand’s hard work as Australia fought to gain the ascendancy on Day 1 of the third Test in Auckland. A return to form from skipper Stephen Fleming, batting down the order, as well as another half-century from Hamish Marshall, allowed New Zealand to steadily, albeit slowly, build their first-innings total after winning the toss.

Glenn McGrath’s miserly display typified the day’s proceedings, as only 199 runs were scored from 90 overs. All the Australian bowlers were economical, but McGrath outshone the rest with the impeccable figures of 1 for 20 from 24 overs, a remarkable 17 maidens amongst them. New Zealand’s opening pair took on an unfamiliar look as James Marshall, Hamish’s identical twin, made his debut, taking his place at no. 2 instead of the out-of-form Fleming.

Craig Cumming battled for 31 deliveries only to pad up to Gillespie on five to give Australia the ideal start. James Marshall was joined by his brother at 1-16, and looked the more positive of the two in the early stages of the innings. His third boundary pushed him to 29 in an assured debut innings, but it was to be McGrath who prevailed. A lackadaisical push outside off stump resulted in a catch to Hayden at gully, ending the debutant’s innings.

After a disastrous run of LBW’s against Glenn McGrath, Fleming looked far more settled against the older ball at number four. Both he and Hamish Marshall proved content to defend and leave McGrath, while working the other bowlers to slowly build a significant target. Fleming managed a number of near misses against McGrath, but ultimately avoided the further humiliation of falling to his new-found nemesis again. Their obduracy continued well into the final session as the partnership extended beyond 100, both Fleming and Marshall bringing up half-centuries.

After a stand encompassing 53.4 overs and 126 runs, the stand was ended, unsurprisingly, by Shane Warne who snared Marshall for a third time in five innings. Ricky Ponting held on to a close-in catch with Marshall on 76, though confusion abounded as to whether umpire Jeremy Lloyds had given the decision as caught or LBW. The dismissal spurred Australia into action again after a lethargic day, and the other big wicket fell less than three overs later. Michael Kasprowicz cramped Fleming for room, who played onto his leg stump after a patient return to form, hitting eight fours and a six in his 65.

Despite their best efforts, New Zealand could not quite bat out the remaining overs without losing another wicket. Astle (7*) and Vincent dead-batted nearly ten overs for just 11 runs, but a lack of judgement from Vincent resulted in another wicket just before the close of play. Gillespie got a delivery to cut back towards Vincent’s off stump, which narrowly missed and went for four byes. A similar delivery next ball was again left by Vincent, but on this occasion clipped the off bail to bring up the fifth wicket, Vincent falling for a sluggish two from 30 balls. McCullum ensured New Zealand kept five wickets intact for the start of Day Two, but the balance is still tipped slightly in Australia’s favour, with the hosts needing to force a win to draw the series.

Score Summary:

NEW ZEALAND 5 for 199 from 90 overs
HJH Marshall 76, SP Fleming 65;
JN Gillespie 2/50, GD McGrath 1/20

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