NZ in command despite McGrath

New Zealand maintained control of the First Test against Australia, but a six-wicket burst from veteran paceman Glenn McGrath ensured some respite for Australia. After totalling 433, thanks largely to Hamish Marshall’s maiden ton of 146, New Zealand struck three crucial blows before the close of play to keep the pressure on the tourists.

The home side’s commanding overnight position of 3/265 was consolidated early this morning as Marshall and Astle developed their partnership further. Marshall in particular continued to demonstrate supreme form, consistently piercing the field and finding the boundaries. In fact, he scored 98 in boundaries, more than two-thirds of his eventual 146. The addition of 65 runs from the start of play took NZ to 330, before Warne made the crucial breakthrough. A drifting legspinner pitched outside legstump, before spinning back through Marshall’s legs to knock back his middle stump, ending a brilliant innings which gave the hosts the early advantage.

From there it was all Glenn McGrath, as the Australian spearhead bounced back from figures of 0/75 to claim six wickets in a masterful display with the old ball. Reverse swing claimed Astle, who had batted impressively for his 74, struck in front by a yorker. Both McMillan and McCullum made starts, but both too fell to McGrath, the former playing loosely outside off for 13, and the latter clouting straight to Langer at cover after an aggressive 29. McGrath removed Franklin with an inswinger for a third-ball duck, leaving New Zealand 8-403, having lost 5/73 since Marshall’s departure. Vettori provided some late runs with an audacious unbeaten 24, but debutant Iain O’Brien and James Franklin provided McGrath with two more wickets, and Gilchrist with two more catches.

New Zealand finished 433 all out, an impressive total against the world champions but perhaps disappointing given that they were 3/330 at one stage. McGrath’s spell of 6/40 gave him overall figures of 6/115, but received little support, though Warne was touled lucklessly in taking 2/112 from 40 overs. Chris Martin’s start was nothing short of disastrous, however, as Langer and Hayden plundered fifteen runs from the first over of the innings. Langer played confidently early on, hitting 23 from only 28 balls, but was first to go, falling to Franklin via an inside-edged cut shot onto leg stump. Hayden too made a steady start, hitting six boundaries in 34, but he became O’Brien’s first Test victim, edging to slip where Astle took a stunning catch. His dismissal left Australia 2/75 and again under pressure.

Australian Captain Ricky Ponting began confidently, his first scoring-shot a sumptuous on drive to the boundary. He added 65 with Martyn, before the latter fell unluckily to Vettori. He was adjudged LBW on 32 by umpire Shepherd in the final over of the day, despite replays showing a clear inside edge. Nightwatchman Jason Gillespie survived the remainder of the over, leaving Australia 3/141 at the close. Ponting played well, ending on 41* and hoping to continue his form tomorrow to approach NZ’s first-innings total.

Score Summary:

NEW ZEALAND 433 all out in 141 overs
HJH Marshall 146, CD Cumming 74, NJ Astle 74;
GD McGrath 6/115, SK Warne 2/112

AUSTRALIA 3/141 in 41 overs
RT Ponting 41*, ML Hayden 35;
JEC Franklin 1/22, DL Vettori 1/23

Australia trail by 292 runs

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