by Shreyas S. Bhide
In a low scoring encounter that lasted 4 days, Australia thrashed New Zealand by 149 runs at the Gabba, Brisbane. Mitchell Johnson claimed his maiden five-wicket haul as Australia staged an impressive comeback from their batting disasters in both the innings.
Chasing 327 to win and still behind by 184 runs, the Kiwis resumed their innings on the fourth morning on 143 for 6. Vettori was caught one-handed by Andrew Symonds at point off Johnson’s bowling on 10. Taylor, who had been holding his end up pretty admirably until then, was the next to depart, again guilty of poking out-side the off-stump of Johnson. He was caught behind by Brad Haddin for a composed 75 run knock off 128 balls, hitting 9 fours in his essay.The New Zealand tail wasn’t expected to wag, and expectedly so they suffered from a collapse to hand over Australia victory in the first test match. Johnson finished with five wickets for 39 runs to claim his maiden five-wicket haul. His impressive match figures of 9 for 69 earned him the man-of-the-match award as the hosts took a 1-0 lead in the two-Test series.
The victory came at the right time for Australia and especially Ricky Ponting, who had been in the line of fire following his team’s disastrous tour of India last month. The World champions also displayed fine character after they were bowled out for 214, being put in to bat in difficult conditions. They exploited the fragile batting of the visitors and managed a handy 58 run cushion in the first-innings. After Michael Clarke’s 98 on the first day, Simon Katich`s unbeaten 131 in the second innings proved to be the difference between the two teams. Though neither of the team goes home deriving all-positives from the match. Considering cricketing world standards these days, this was a pretty low scoring game, especially since it had Australia. The batting failed, but nor can the bowlers claim that they ruled. It was a game where basically both teams performed below par. The Aussies managed a win thanks to some good display of batting and bowling on day three and four.
The match though seems to have had its first casualty – Shane Watson. The all rounder whobowled pretty decently in the first Test by taking two wickets but let himself down with the bat, scoring one and five when Australia were in trouble in both the innings, has been left out of the 12-man squad for the second and final test against New Zealand at Adelaide.National Selection Panel Chairman Andrew Hilditch acknowledged Watson’s fine show in the 0-2 series loss to India and in the first test, but said the omission was necessary due to the need of a specialist spinner in Adelaide instead of a makeshift pacer Peter Siddle. While Shane Watson will stay in Gabba to play for Queensland against South Australia in the Weet-Bix Sheffield Shield clash starting on Friday.
The Kangaroos need to spruce up their bowling and batting attack to prevent the Kiwis from winning then the second test in Adelaide and levelling the two test series 1-1. The Black Caps, meanwhile, will have to get there house in order with immediate effect or else a 2-0 loss may just be staring at them. The second test starts from Friday.