1st Match: Australia v New Zealand at Melbourne, 11 Jan 2002|
New Zealand innings:
NEW ZEALANDERS GALLOP TO SENSATIONAL WINIf this New Zealand team was a racehorse, it would probably need to be swabbed. It had no right, in the eyes of its detractors, to force a 0-0 draw in its recently-completed three-match Test series in Australia. Now - after most of the experts had still failed to pay it the credit that its fighting qualities demand - it has gone further by reversing previous form lines and seizing a sensational 23-run win over Australia in Melbourne in the opening match of the VB Series of one-day internationals.
Australia had won 18 of its last 21 one-day internationals on entering this fixture; New Zealand only 8 of its last 28. And, as the match began, the form held true: the Australians needing no greater encouragement than the prospect of receiving the first chance to bowl on a lively pitch to puncture the visitors' top and middle order.
Pacemen Brett Lee (3/43) and Glenn McGrath (2/47) were irresistible early as the combination of accurate bowling and poor shot selection brought the Black Caps' score crashing to a dismal 7/94 inside 27 overs.
But the course of this match was defined by its second session rather than its first.
After New Zealand had mustered a moderate 8/199 from its 50 overs, it even faced the potential handover of a bonus point by the time that Australia clattered to 2/95 from just 15 overs.
Yet, much like Chris Harris (63*) and Daniel Vettori (30) had done with a stirring exhibition of lower order batting earlier in the day, so its bowlers hit back brilliantly.
Ricky Ponting (45) ignited the run chase but the Australians' batting generally proved lacklustre. Chris Cairns (3/42) and Shane Bond (3/53) shattered the middle order; there was a disastrous mix-up between Damien Martyn (24) and Steve Waugh (15) which led to the latter's run out; and the Australians' lower order proved nowhere near as resilient as that of their opponents. In the end, they simply didn't have enough resources left to gather the runs they needed.
Ponting's early strokemaking was outstanding but he lost concentration, responding in frustrated fashion to New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming's increasingly restrictive and astute field settings by lifting a catch to fine leg off Bond. Michael Bevan (27), often the chief architect of Australian wins, also suffered a lapse - slashing at a short delivery from the same bowler to send the ball spiralling to third man.
Even at 4/135, there was little to hint at an Australian decline. But, when barely a muscle in Martyn's body twitched as Waugh called for a third run from a shot played through mid on, it precipitated a collapse.
It was just as well for the New Zealanders, for their part, that they had earlier been able to rely on the ever-dependable Harris to lift them from similar peril. His sensible accumulation of runs, and unhurried progress, was a lesson to virtually every other player on the ground. With the possible exception, that is, of Vettori and Scott Styris (23), whose ability to combine with him in defiant lower order partnerships proved crucial. The union of 72 between Harris and Vettori - a record for the eighth wicket for New Zealand in one-day internationals - was a perfect study in measured batting.
All the while, the Australians acquiesced in the Kiwis' escape from ruin. They also lapsed in delivering their overs slowly - an indiscretion from which they seemed fortunate to escape without penalty from match referee Hannumant Singh.
And the errors were then compounded as they permitted imaginative captaincy, menacing bowling and the apparent lure of a bonus point to derail their progress.
The Black Caps' march to victory could not even be stalled by unruly elements in the crowd. Regrettably, play was stopped for eight minutes in mid-evening as members of a noisy contingent in the bowels of the Great Southern Stand sought to target at least one member of the fielding team with a stream of projectiles.
Order was only restored when a battalion of police officers and security staff descended upon that part of the stadium to evict more than 200 offenders. It was a shameful blight on the match, though by no means the first such incident in Melbourne in recent years.
As matters transpired, it wasn't a great night for the local team either.
Australia's performance rapidly developed into a close replica of its last loss in this competition. That occurred at exactly the same stage of the tournament nearly two years ago to the day.
The Australians lost their two openers - Adam Gilchrist (23) and Mark Waugh (1) - inside the opening ten overs of the innings but had still been able to maintain an astonishing run rate through the early stages.
By the time the 15th over had been completed, the total had even spilled to 2/95.
But some artful captaincy from Stephen Fleming, and some excellent bowling from Bond (3/42) and from Daniel Vettori (0/29), rapidly altered the situation.
Fleming concentrated his field in an arc on the off side and had each of his bowlers maintain an attacking line for several overs just on and outside the line of off stump. It paid dividends initially in a dramatic reduction in the scoring rate and then manifested itself in even more material rewards.
Ricky Ponting (45), who had earlier unravelled the attack with a glorious display of strokemaking, appeared frustrated at the sudden lack of progress and lost his wicket as he sought to attack a Bond delivery spearing down the leg side. He erred in lifting the ball without control off the line of his pads, sending the ball to James Franklin at fine leg for a regulation catch.
Better things were to follow for Bond at the start of his following over when he forced Michael Bevan (27) to retreat to the pavilion too. Having tested the left hander persistently with short deliveries, the New Zealanders were cock-a-hoop as he chased another and slashed a second catch to Franklin - this time at third man - off a top edge.
Damien Martyn (15*) might have joined the exodus but narrowly avoided the fate of being caught off Vettori's bowling with his score at just 6. An attempt at a lusty blow down the ground sent the ball slicing just beyond the reach of both a backpedaling cover fieldsman and another moving in quickly from a sweeping position on the off side.
But the Western Australian mightn't be a popular man in the Australian dressing room for a little while in any case after his involvement shortly thereafter in an horrific mix-up with captain Steve Waugh (15). Waugh pushed a delivery from Chris Cairns (1/32) through vacant space at mid on and was determined to avail himself of a third run as Lou Vincent pursued the ball. Martyn wasn't nearly as interested, though, and did not move from his crease. It left Waugh stranded. And visibly annoyed.
The suddenly under-pressure Australians' only respite from the Black Caps' pursuit of an unlikely win came as play was stalled by unruly elements in the crowd. Apparently not content with the fact that the MCG was already playing host to a stream of rubbish thrown on to the arena earlier in the day, some members of a noisy contingent in the bowels of the Great Southern Stand sought to target at least one member of the fielding team with further projectiles.
Regrettably, play needed to be stopped for eight minutes. Order was only restored when a battalion of police officers and security staff descended upon that part of the stadium to remove a number of offenders and to guard against similar action from other would-be hooligans.
The Black Caps began the night needing an impressive performance with the new ball to retain hopes of winning the match. To that end, Shane Bond (1/31) offered them brilliant impetus, removing Mark Waugh (1) in the opening over of the innings.
Bowling down breeze, Bond unsettled Waugh with a quick delivery just outside the line of off stump, drawing a meek defensive push and a thin outside edge to wicketkeeper Adam Parore. But, in seeking to do the same to Ponting (44*), he was rapidly smashed out of the attack.
As a series of deliveries of the wrong length were offered to Ponting and to Adam Gilchrist (23), a total of 58 runs were clattered from Bond and tall left armer James Franklin (0/25) in the space of just seven overs.
Gilchrist set the tone with an authoritative drive down the ground from a Bond half volley, and then Ponting upped the tempo even further. He crashed a short ball from Franklin through square leg; punched a full one from Bond through mid on; lifted a short offering imperiously over the mid wicket fence; and then drove another with impeccable timing through mid off.
Bond conceded 19 runs from a disastrous third over of his spell and was promptly replaced in the attack. Franklin's experience was not a whole lot more pleasant.
It was only when Chris Cairns (1/26) found an unusual way of halting Gilchrist's innings that there was any kind of relief. The New Zealand all-rounder delivered a low full toss, at slow pace, on the line of leg stump to have Gilchrist closing the face of his bat and sending back a comfortable catch. In stark contrast to what had occurred earlier in the innings, the dismissal was almost played out in slow motion.
A maiden over ensued as Michael Bevan (20*) played himself in characteristically watchfully. But the scoreboard was soon ticking over again as Daniel Vettori (0/13) assumed the bowling duties from Franklin at the Great Southern Stand End. Ponting stepped back to twice crash balls to the rope at extra cover and the tone was then replicated as Bevan ferociously pulled short deliveries from Cairns on another two occasions in the following over.
Suddenly re-asserted was the Australians' clear interest in collecting the bonus point that is on offer to them if they can overhaul New Zealand's score inside 40 overs.
Interestingly, the Australians have escaped penalty for their slow over rate earlier in the day and have a full quota of 50 overs available to them in this innings. Match referee Hannumant Singh chose to apply no sanction in response to their efforts in delivering only 47 overs by the stipulated finishing time of today's first session, ruling that a series of unscheduled interruptions were instead the cause of the delay.
Lower order players Chris Harris (63*), Daniel Vettori (30) and Scott Styris (23) were able to mount steely and spirited resistance in order to hoist the Black Caps to their final tally. But, when the visitors plunged headlong to a total of 7/94 in less than 30 overs, the trend of their innings had largely been defined.
On a surface that offered both bounce and pace through the early passages of play, it was the combination of poor shot selection and accurate bowling that brought the New Zealanders to their knees. Openers Lou Vincent (17) and Mark Richardson (8) embedded impressive aggression into their respective innings as the match began - under skies that alternated between blue and grey - but their urgent approach soon spilled over into trouble.
Attacking shots were littered throughout the first 20 overs yet the tourists quickly found that more haste brought less speed. Richardson fanned away from his body at Glenn McGrath (2/46) to be caught behind; Stephen Fleming (1) was out the same way as he drove lavishly at a delivery slanted across him; and Vincent miscued a cover drive as he found himself unwilling to restrain a desire to attack the opening delivery of the innings from Brett Lee (3/43).
Chris Cairns (10) was unable to play an angry, rising ball from Lee to ground on the off side, and Craig McMillan (17) then fished as Lee directed another short of a length ball just wide of off stump, to ensure that the bulk of the Kiwis' batting resources were back in the pavilion before even 19 overs were bowled.
Styris and Harris added 22 runs for the sixth wicket as the pace of the scoring slowed dramatically, and then Harris and Vettori defiantly milked another 72 for the eighth to show their teammates how it could and should have been done.
Albeit that he was dropped with his score at 7, Styris played positively and without the irrational mindset displayed by many of his teammates. Harris, seemingly an ever-dependable presence against Australia, was in his element in accumulating a score without much in the way of risk. And Vettori, in raising his highest ever score in a one-day international and helping Harris to mount the country's best-ever partnership for the eighth wicket at this level, also assembled a bright innings.
But the trio's ability to work the field over for singles, and to strike occasionally and cleverly interspersed boundaries, still represented something of a double sword. In demystifying the pitch; upsetting the line of the Australian bowlers; and even condemning the locals' lapse into a slow over rate that may lead to a penalty, they showed that there was nothing too inhospitable about the conditions for batting.
Openers Lou Vincent (17) and Mark Richardson (8) forged an encouraging enough start for the visitors on a fast and bouncy pitch, taking the total to 20 in brisk fashion with aggression and purpose.
But, once Australian spearhead Glenn McGrath (2/23) struck by finding the top edge of Richardson's bat in the fifth over, it set a trend of Australian command that the Black Caps have found difficult to quell.
After a period of relative inactivity, captain Stephen Fleming (1) was another to be drawn hypnotically into playing at a McGrath delivery moving away from him, driving forcefully - but only off the outside edge - and presenting Mark Waugh with a juggled catch at second slip.
Vincent and Craig McMillan (17) joined in a fleeting flurry of shot making and were even able to see McGrath off without any further calamities at the Members End.
But the pattern of wicket-taking at that end was not to be averted for long. The New Zealanders' play was too excited too early.
Upon his introduction to the attack, speedster Brett Lee (3/30) immediately lured Vincent into half-heartedly driving a catch to cover, and was despairingly close to removing Chris Cairns (10) with a caught and bowled from the very next ball.
Cairns resisted for long enough to carve a boundary electrically through point but perished when Lee pinned him on to the back foot with a nasty, lifting delivery. The key New Zealand strokemaker aimed at doing little more than fending the ball off his chest but played the shot with enough of an angled bat to have it hanging in the air toward Ricky Ponting at point.
Lee was developing menacing pace by this stage, and that ingredient in his bowling was eventually enough to conquer McMillan too. Having played the shot expertly more than once in his innings, the pugnacious right hander was tempted into cutting at a ball pitched short of a length and outside off stump. But his effort was both late and half-hearted and he succeeded only in sending the ball off a nibbling top edge to wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist.
At 5/67, the Black Caps were in urgent need of a long and doughty partnership. All-rounders Scott Styris (23) and Chris Harris (10*) bravely battened down the hatches in a bid to inspire it, defending for the most part but also taking advantage of the series of singles available to them with sweepers set back on both sides of the wicket.
The New Zealanders' pulses skipped another beat as Styris was dropped at 7, playing off a thick edge at Ian Harvey (1/17) and taking the ball wide and low to the left of Shane Warne in a strategically placed position between slip and gully.
But further palpitations followed when Styris' luck turned the other way - bowler Harvey somehow finding a way to block the force of a scorching straight drive before diving athletically forward to claim an exceptional caught and bowled on the rebound.
Possibly the last thing that was needed by the Black Caps - a run out - then deprived Adam Parore (3) of any more than a fleeting stay at the wicket. The wicketkeeper-batsman turned a Lee delivery off the hip to Damien Martyn at square leg, found himself involved in a disastrous calling mix-up with the sprinting Harris, and was metres short of his ground as Lee jubilantly re-arranged the look of the castle at the bowler's end.
Though there's enough life in the pitch to encourage hopes of a fightback from the New Zealand bowlers later in the match, there's not so much as to make the tourists' current scoreline appear anywhere near adequate at this point of the afternoon.
The new-look limited-overs pairing of Lou Vincent (17) and Mark Richardson (8) offered the match an exciting start by playing a number of meaty strokes and showing a serial willingness to steal singles.
Richardson was immediately into stride, swinging the last delivery of fellow debutant Brad Williams' (0/23) opening over high over mid wicket for four.
Vincent was also aggressive, though not always in control. He played and missed at each of the opening bowlers early but took the attack back to them by issuing several belligerent strokes. One improvised pull, as he advanced well down the pitch at McGrath (2/23), was especially memorable. Further annoyance was created for the Australians when, on 9, he hooked off a top edge to Steve Waugh at square leg from McGrath only to look up and see that umpire Darrell Hair was calling a no-ball for overstepping.
But a change promptly came over the complexion of the game when McGrath induced Richardson into committing a fatal error. It was a lifting delivery, cutting marginally away outside the line of his off stump, which yielded the left hander's mistake: a decision to fan away from his body producing no more than a thick top edge high to wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist's left.
As many as 19 dot balls followed Richardson's demise, and the spell was only broken by a tentative inside edge into pad from Stephen Fleming (1) which opened an opportunity for an urgently-taken single.
The New Zealand captain then played out another two deliveries without addition to his score before he flashed at a delivery of good length slanted across him by McGrath. An outside edge sent the ball flying ferociously toward second slip, where Mark Waugh completed the catch after parrying the ball up to himself on his first bite at the interception.
Craig McMillan (15*) reimposed the early attacking tempo by cracking three powerfully cover driven boundaries almost immediately upon his arrival in the middle. And, with Vincent responding to his partner's rallying cry with a series of rasping cuts and a sparkling shot off his pads through square leg, the Black Caps looked to be quickly levelling terms.
But Vincent inexplicably spooned a catch to cover from the very first ball delivered by Lee (2/7) to consign the New Zealanders to further woe.
Chris Cairns (10) narrowly dodged a bullet from his very first delivery as he drove the ball just wide of the bowler at around shoulder height. McMillan was also fortunate to survive at 13 when a mistimed pull at Williams sent the ball towering toward the heavens, but luckily vacant space too, halfway between the wicketkeeper and the fine leg boundary.
The trend didn't hold, though. In Lee's second over, Cairns quickly produced a thrilling stroke that sent the ball to the rope at point at a speed resembling a tracer bullet. But he was promptly surprised by a perfectly-aimed shorter delivery on the bouncy pitch, not only fending the ball off his chest uncomfortably but also far enough in the air to permit Ricky Ponting the chance to accept a catch running in from point.
White clothes have been replaced by colours; a coloured ball has been replaced by a white one. Unflinching batting will be replaced by unrestrained batting; bouncers at tailenders by balls in the block hole.
Though there is at least one constant: namely, a good start for Australia. Captain Steve Waugh has won the toss and invited the Black Caps to bat first on a drop-in pitch expected to offer early pace and bounce. That move should suit the three-pronged pace attack that the Australians have elected to immerse within a well-balanced team.
The tourists, for their part, enter the match with just one change to the side that lost by 60 runs to Australia 'A' in a warm-up contest at the 'Gabba on Tuesday. Key all-rounder Dion Nash has been left out of the line-up on the basis that there are slight concerns over his ability to bowl a full complement of overs at this early stage of the series. His place has been taken by the exciting young pace bowler James Franklin.
There is a mixture of good and bad news, meanwhile, on the weather front. Conditions are significantly cooler than those the New Zealanders confronted on an oppressive afternoon in Brisbane three days ago. But forecasters are predicting that a cool change will hit Melbourne some time later this afternoon or early this evening, implying that the match could well become rain-interrupted.
Date-stamped : 11 Jan2002 - 14:37