Gilchrist blazes as NZ struggle

New Zealand vs. Australia
Third Test at Auckland
Day 3

Adam Gilchrist continued his dominant form with the bat, blazing a quickfire unbeaten 60 to put Australia firmly in charge against NZ. After building a 91-run lead, Glenn McGrath ensured Australia maintained the advantage with two wickets late in the day.

Michael Clarke’s poor run of form continued when he was dismissed under unfortunate circumstances after adding only four runs to his overnight 18. A push to the offside by nightwatchman Jason Gillespie was collected by Hamish Marshall at cover. Clarke realised too late that a run wasn’t on, and was beaten by Marshall’s one-handed pick-up and throw, which resulted in a direct hit. Jason Gillespie responded by frustrating New Zealand with his textbook defence, while Simon Katich gradually built Australia’s total at the other end.

After more than 31 overs at the crease, Gillespie finally relented, caught behind by McCullum off Martin. His innings was in fact Australia’s longest in terms of balls faced – 145 – and contained six boundaries in his 35 runs, giving Australia the lead by the time he fell. Katich threw away his good start shortly afterward, attempting to pull a short ball from Franklin, only to sky it to give Wiseman a simple catch at mid-on. Shane Warne lasted only ten deliveries before Franklin struck again, pushing at a good delivery outside off stump to hand Fleming a simple catch at slip.

At 8/303, with a lead of only 11, Australia were in an unfamiliar position in this series. New Zealand however failed to capitalise, as Kasprowicz provided useful resistance and Gilchrist continued his rich vein of form. Gilchrist dealt particularly harshly with the opening pair of Martin and Franklin, both of whom leaked runs at well over four per over. Kasprowicz too made use of the short boundaries, hitting three himself in making 23, just short of his career-best 25. A 74-run stand between the pair lifted Australia from a position of bother to one of relative safety, before Kasprowicz became Franklin’s fifth victim, unluckily getting bowled around the legs.

After passing 50, Gilchrist hit his first six of the innings off the last ball of Wiseman’s 31st over, launching him over mid-on. New Zealand’s misery ended with the next ball, however, as Franklin brought up his first Test six-wicket haul (6-119) by having McGrath adjudged caught behind for a duck. The decision was a dubious one, however, and McGrath walked off the ground without bothering to conceal his annoyance.

McGrath directed his anger in a positive fashion, however, as he terrorised the Kiwi openers in a hostile spell late in the day. His first two deliveries cut back viciously towards Craig Cumming’s stumps, the second one being rewarded with an LBW verdict to give New Zealand a less-than-ideal start. After softening him up with more bouncers than perhaps necessary, McGrath completed the pair by removing debutant James Marshall for three, on what was to be the last ball of the day. Marshall edged one off the back foot, which Justin Langer caught at third slip.

New Zealand still face a deficit of 80 runs, and will be relying on first-innings half-centurions Hamish Marshall and Stephen Fleming – both currently at the crease – to do as much again and hopefully more, if they are to set Australia a difficult chase.

Score Summary: Stumps Day 3

HJH Marshall 76, SP Fleming 65;
GD McGrath 3-49, SK Warne 4-63

RT Ponting 105, AC Gilchrist 60*;
JEC Franklin 6-119

NEW ZEALAND 2 for 11
HJH Marshall 3*, SP Fleming 0*;
GD McGrath 2-7

New Zealand trail by 80 runs with eight wickets in hand

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