Rain dampens Australia’s chances

New Zealand, who are due to follow on tomorrow morning, were skittled for 244 on a day that was significantly affected by the weather.

No play was possible in the first session due to persistent showers, aiding a struggling New Zealand side hang on to the hope of salvaging a draw. After lunch, Lou Vincent and night-watchman James Franklin put up a reasonable fight and had a few of the Australians worried before Micheal Kasprowicz, as he has done so often in recent months, came up with two all-important breakthroughs.

Franklin was the first man out, edging an attempted drive through to Gilchrist, caught not moving his feet when on 24. Vincent, after reaching his 7th Test half-century, was dismissed soon after, edging an angled ball to Gilchrist while trying to push through the covers, leaving the score on 6/180.

Shane Warne followed up Kasprowicz’s effort with two wickets of his own. McCullum was his first victim, caught at mid-wicket by Clarke for just 3. Craig McMillan, the last of the recognised batsman, then made the mistake of playing across the line to Warne and was bowled for 20 with the score on 8/201.

Iain O’Brien was then yorked by Jason Gillespie before Daniel Vettori, who over recent years has become a much-improved batsman, provided some commendable resistance after scoring 45, including 8 fours. He was the last man out, caught in the deep off Warne, ending the innings on 244, 177 runs behind the follow-on target and 326 runs behind the Australian total of 8 declared for 570.

Just as the Australian captain, Ricky Ponting, asked the home side to follow on, the covers had to once again be brought out due to the poor Wellington weather. As it turned out, they weren’t taken off for the rest of the day, as play was abandoned by the umpires before scheduled stumps time.

If the Australians can strike early tomorrow morning, they are still in with a good chance of winning the match and with it, the series. However, the New Zealanders’ best friend, rain, may intervene and help them to a draw.

Score Summary: Stumps – Day 4

Australia 8 dec. for 570 in 140 overs;
DR Martyn 165, AC Gilchrist 162, ML Hayden 61, SK Warne 50*, JEC Franklin 4/128

New Zealand all out for 244 in 81.1 overs;
L Vincent 63, DL Vettori 45, MS Kasprowicz 3/42, SK Warne 3/69

New Zealand trail by 326 runs

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