Warne scripts remarkable win

A remarkable bowling effort from Shane Warne and Jason Gillespie, coupled with a distinctly ordinary New Zealand batting effort, allowed Australia to complete their comeback and seal a nine-wicket win in the First Test. After three tense and well-contested days of Test cricket, New Zealand succumbed to be all out for just 131, leaving Australia free to take a 1-0 series lead.

Beginning the day ten runs ahead with all wickets intact, the ball was squarely in New Zealand’s court to build a potentially matchwinning total. The first ball of the day saw a confinent LBW shout against Stephen Fleming, which was cautiously turned down. That was to prove a false omen, however, as seven of the ten New Zealand wickets to fall were via leg before decisions. Fleming got his comeuppance shortly afterward, however, as McGrath trapped him in front at 1-20, ironically through a more questionable shout than the one prior.

Denied new-ball honours in favour of Michael Kasprowicz, Jason Gillespie had a point to prove when he came on to bowl at first change. His first wicket of the match was that of debutant Craig Cumming, who couldn’t replicate his first innings 74, out LBW for a scratchy seven. Lou Vincent managed one scoring shot before Gillespie struck again through the same means, New Zealand now in a vulnerable position at 3-34. Amongst the top order, only Nathan Astle played positively, but his stay at the crease was all too brief. Four boundaries brought him to 21, until a Kasprowicz off-cutter took the inside edge of an attempted leave by Astle, playing on to the stumps.

After being softened up by the pace trio, New Zealand were exposed to a Shane Warne masterclass. A luckless first innings brought him only 2/112, but on a dramatically turning fourth-day pitch, New Zealand’s batsmen couldn’t get themselves out soon enough. Craig McMillan’s torrid stay at the crease ended after just seven deliveries with the softest of dismissals. Attempting to defend to a delivery well outside leg, McMillan succeeded only in directing the simplest of catches to Simon Katich at short leg. 5-78 soon looked alot worse as first-innings centurion Hamish Marshall was bamboozled after a circumspect 22. ‘HJH Marshall b Warne’ graced the scorecard for the second time in the match, as Warne ripped one out of the rough to bowl Marshall around his legs, having not offered either shot or pad.

From there it was only a matter of time as Warne took care of the tail. Gillespie, too, added another LBW, removing McCullum after a handy but ultimately insufficient 24. Vettori managed 23 before falling somewhat questionably LBW to Warne, and O’Brien and Martyn fell in like fashion to see the home side bundled out for 131. Though the pitch provided assistance to Vettori in particular, the target set was at least 100-150 short of competitive, and Australia faced few problems in chasing down the total. Hayden was the only casualty, caught off bat and pad for 15. Langer and Ponting wasted little time in chasing, Langer dealing particularly harshly with the pace trio, hitting an unbeaten 72 from just 85 balls. Ponting brought up the winning runs with a boundary of Vettori, ending unbeaten himself on 47.

Man of the Match honours were rightly reserved for the player who turned the game – namely Adam Gilchrist, whose 121 from just 126 balls sapped New Zealand of the confidence required to beat the world champions. In the circumstances, the performances of Glenn McGrath and Simon Katich were remarkable also, so too the maiden ton of Hamish Marshall and Vettori’s first-innings bowling effort. Nonetheless, Australia head to Wellington with a 1-0 advantage, and New Zealand will have to turn in a strong performance over five days if they are to level the series.

Score Summary:

NEW ZEALAND 1st Innings 433 all out
HJH Marshall 146, CD Cumming 74, NJ Astle 74;
GD McGrath 6/119, SK Warne 2/112

AUSTRALIA 1st Innings 432 all out
AC Gilchrist 121, SM Katich 118;
DL Vettori 5/106, JEC Franklin 2/102

NEW ZEALAND 2nd Innings 131 all out
BB McCullum 24, DL Vettori 23;
SK Warne 5/39, JN Gillespie 3/38

AUSTRALIA 2nd Innings 1/135
JL Langer 72*, RT Ponting 47*;
DL Vettori 1/55

Result: Australia win by 9 wickets
Series: Australia lead the three-Test series 1-0

Man of the Match: Adam Gilchrist (121 off 126 deliveries, three catches)

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