by Shreyas S. Bhide
Australia carried over its batting woes from the sub-continent to their home grounds.
New Zealand’s Under-19 star Tim Southee’s opening burst produced the crucial wickets Matthew Hayden (8), Simon Katich (10) and Captain Ricky Ponting (4) and reduced Australia to 23 for 3 earlier in the day. The youngster then returned to dismiss Brett Lee (4) and proved his skipper Daniel Vettori’s decision to select him over Kyle Mills correct. The 20-year old’s final figures read 4-63, while Iain O’Brien and Jesse Ryder contributed with two wickets each.
The right arm bowler, who was declared the Player of the tournament in the under-19 world cup 2007, has had an impressive showing in his international career so far. On his debut against England at Napier in March this year, he scalped an impressive fifer (5 for 55) before smashing 77 off 40 balls in the second innings with nine sixes to hint at a bright all-round future.
For Australia, barring Vice-captain Michael Clarke, none of the batsmen looked comfortable against a relatively inexperienced and youthful bowling attack. Clarke scored a gritty knock of 98 off 217 balls, while other batsmen looked confused whether to attack or defend on a spongy green top at the Gabba here in Brisbane.
Earlier in the day, after Black Caps skipper Vettori won the toss, he sent in Australia to bat first. Tim Southee’s inspired spell saw him picking up the left-hand openers Matthew Hayden and Simon Katich with classic off-cutters and later he extended Australian captain Ricky Ponting’s miserable year, having him caught at the second slip off a leading edge for just 4 runs. It took a toiling 73 run partnership between Mike Hussey and Michael Clarke to steady the Aussie ship. But just as the ship has started re-sailing Martin trapped Hussey LBW for 35 runs in the post-lunch session to reopen the gates for another quick collapse. Hussey shouldered arms to the delivery that came back into the left-hander, and watched in horror as umpire Rudi Koertzen raised his finger to the seamer’s lbw appeal. Hussey’s dismissal brought Andrew Symonds to the crease, and the Queenslander was given a huge round of applause by his home crowd as he strode to the crease for the first time since Australia’s Test against the West Indies in June this year. Symonds hit lusty blows to signal his rearrival in the international arena, but very uncharacteristically, flattered to deceive. He was caught behind by McCullum of O’Brien for 26. There wasn’t much left thereafter and only an Australian optimist would have expected an inexperienced lower-order to show any resilience. Watson (1), Haddin (6), Lee (4) and Johnson (5) followed soon, leaving Michael and Stuart Clarke to fight it out for the last wicket and stitch together a 31-run partnership.
At stumps, when play was stopped due to bad light, New Zealand had safely and successfully negotiated five overs and had 7 runs on the board without losing any wickets.