Sunday, December 11, 2011
Warner and Hughes set Australia on course for victory, but still a long way to go.
Australia 136 & 0/72 (19ov, Warner 47*) need 169 more runs with 10 2nd innings in hand to defeat New Zealand 150 & 226 (78.3 ov, Taylor 56, Lyon 3/25, Pattinson 3/54, Siddle 3/66) T2/2 D3/5 at Hobart.
Australia's bowlers, aided by some careless batting, took 7/87 in the first, and by far the longest, session of another rain interrupted day. The top six New Zealanders all reached double figures, yet captain Ross Taylor's obdurate 56/169b (6x4) was the highest individual score.
The conditions continued to offer the bowlers some assistance, so a lead of 240 was OK, though a few more runs, as always, would have been handy and, given that Ricky Ponting was called on to bowl, might have been garnered with a little more application.
When Australia began its chase I'm sure I wasn't the only viewer expecting to see
Phil Hughes snaffled cheaply in the slips. But it hasn't happened so far. He's batted very watchfully for 20*/64b (3x4) which, with David Warner's much more ebullient 47*/50b (8x4), laid a solid foundation for a push towards victory, weather permitting tomorrow.
The NZ all pace attack persisted and could, had the captain asked for a review of a close call in favour of Hughes, have picked up a wicket: hotspot showed an edge. Chris Martin 6-2-11-0 was once again stinginess personified, while Trent Boult and today's birthday boy Tim Southee were lively without looking like matchwinners. So far the Black Caps have done surprisingly well without the injured Daniel Vettori, but they may well miss him tomorrow, just as Australia today were grateful today for Nathan Lyon's off spin in the latter half of the NZ innings.
The match is still too close to call so, having made some embarassingly dud predictions of late, I'm tempted to refrain from doing so... though I've seen too many recent NZ Test teams get into a good position and then let it slide. Which may be happening now.