8th Match: Australia v New Zealand at Adelaide, 26 Jan 2002|
New Zealand innings:
BOND, ASTLE SPOIL AUSTRALIA'S PARTYThough this may have been Australia's national day, New Zealanders' cricketers were again the ones with cause for celebration as another enchanting victory came their way in the VB Series today. This one - registered by the margin of 77 runs over an again-disappointing Australia - was a tribute to disciplined batting and excellent pace bowling in front of a large crowd in Adelaide.
While some will tell you that 26 January - the date that marks the anniversary of the beginning of white settlement in Australia - is a time for painting the town red; enjoying very little shut-eye; and letting one's hair down, the New Zealanders blessed the occasion with another excellent business-as-usual performance. Instead of heading to a hardware store; an optometrist; or a hairdresser, they came to the Adelaide Oval with their sleeves rolled up and a thirst for hard work on a warm and humid day.
Returning to the New Zealand team upon his recovery from a wrist injury, Nathan Astle (95) led the way with the bat, lifting his team toward a total of 5/242 before he tired amid sapping Adelaide heat to fall five runs short of a 12th one-day international century.
Lou Vincent (55) was also impressive and the big-hitting Chris Cairns (39*) inspired a breezy finish, even if the Black Caps did not capitalise as well as they might have done on an outstanding mid-innings position.
Man of the match Shane Bond (5/25), bowling with electric pace, then all but settled the fate of the contest as he snared three wickets in the space of 17 deliveries to leave Australia in peril at 4/26.
Michael Bevan (45) and Steve Waugh (30) launched a fightback but received little support as the tourists attained a bonus point and an invaluable eight point lead at the head of the competition standings.
The Australians' problems stemmed chiefly from their inability to restrain Astle and Vincent in a 128-run partnership for New Zealand's second wicket through the early stages of the afternoon.
Vincent, with his score at 23, benefited from an exceptionally tight call in his favour after third umpire Daryl Harper had analysed a series of replays of the completion of a desperate single to Steve Waugh at mid on. Astle, who ultimately passed Martin Crowe to become New Zealand's all-time leading runscorer in one-day internationals, also dodged a bullet at 33 as he survived a vociferous caught behind appeal off the bowling of Shane Warne (1/33).
Otherwise, the pair played largely without perturbation - not even in the face of excellent bowling from the trio of Warne, Glenn McGrath (2/36) and Jason Gillespie (1/40).
In keeping with the pattern of its battles against its trans-Tasman rival in this series, the home team's run chase was compromised by its inability to assemble a truly threatening partnership. Openings continued to be created by accurate and patient bowling, outstanding field settings, and were then sealed by poor strokeplay.
Bond keenly and skillfully exploited the desire of Ricky Ponting (0) to lash forcefully at an outswinger; blocked a busy run-scoring avenue for Damien Martyn (2) through point and encouraged him to drive a catch there instead; and then conquered the defences of Adam Gilchrist (21) with a ferocious inswinging yorker that has genuine claims on being the best delivery of the international summer.
He later escorted the last patrons from the dance floor when he tilted back the off stump of Gillespie (15) and found the top edge of the bat of Andy Bichel (7) as he attempted to hook. His final figures, well-deserved ones at that, represented the third-best by a bowler in New Zealand one-day international history.
Given that Dion Nash (1/31) had also encouraged the out-of-sorts Mark Waugh (0) to play back to him off a leading edge; Chris Harris (2/35) lured Bevan and Andrew Symonds (11) into meekly spooning high catches down the ground; and Daniel Vettori (1/44) forced Steve Waugh to edge a superb delivery to slip, things ran the Black Caps' way for virtually the entirety of the evening session.
It was not so much the gate-crashing of a party by the end.
Rather, it was all but the closing of the door on any idea that the New Zealanders will not feature in the finals of this tournament.
Chasing the New Zealanders' 5/242, the home team is in desperate trouble at a mark of 7/114 following 30 overs.
Bevan (45) and Waugh (30), the architects of many successful Australian chases over the years, looked at ease for a long period as they added 71 runs in a gritty partnership that lifted their team from calamity at 4/26.
Importantly for their team, they also found a way of surviving against new ball bowlers Shane Bond and Dion Nash where four of their teammates had not.
But the Black Caps maintained their patience well and another of the vital blows that they have been landing against Australia all summer duly arrived in the 25th over.
Waugh was defeated by a ball of impeccable length from left arm spinner Daniel Vettori, apparently unsure whether to play forward or back and outside edging a catch to a gleeful Stephen Fleming at slip.
With the Australians possessing a tail that has been largely unsuccessful in this tournament to date, the pressure on Bevan lifted enormously with the departure of his captain.
It was a prospect that seemed to play sufficiently on his mind to provoke a rare lapse in concentration and a mistimed on drive at the ever-accurate medium pace of Chris Harris followed. As Bevan dragged a high catch down the metaphorical throat of Bond at long on, the Australians' already-remote chances of winning the game seemed to have suffered a fatal setback.
It was a reality confirmed when Andrew Symonds (11) failed to improve upon his run of low scores in the series. Heaving at a full delivery from Harris, Symonds sent the ball billowing high over the bowler's head and was forced to watch in horror as Brendon McCullum - better known back home as a wicketkeeper than a mid on fieldsman - ran a long way to his left to dive and hold an excellent catch.
The Australians, for whom a win tonight would be enough to seize first place on the competition points table, started in brisk style with Adam Gilchrist (21) collecting seven runs from the first five deliveries of the innings.
But a stunning burst of wicket taking soon ensured that the platform for the Australian chase was being built on a shallow base.
Pace bowler Dion Nash, returning to the New Zealand eleven after a long injury lay-off - was the man to establish the trend, completing a caught and bowled dismissal to remove Mark Waugh (0) and prolong a miserable run of form for the experienced Australian batsman. Extraordinarily, it was the seventh time in this series that a wicket has fallen in the first over of an innings.
Waugh's mistake, in attempting to turn the ball into the leg side, was to misread its pace as it held up off the pitch. He duly found himself provoked into looping the ball back to the bowler off a leading edge.
His crestfallen exit was the only encouragement that Nash's new ball partner, Bond, seemed to require.
Only three deliveries later, Ricky Ponting (0) was hypnotically drawn into driving at a Bond outswinger and found himself outside edging a regulation catch to wicketkeeper Adam Parore.
Damien Martyn (2), retaining his newly-found role as a number four, was prevented from scoring at a quick rate by excellent field settings and, having made the collection of vast amounts of runs a personal pre-occupation this summer, initially didn't seem to know quite how to respond. With New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming again illustrating his tactical acumen by packing the point region - often Martyn's favourite run-scoring area - with fieldsmen, pressure quickly built on the Western Australian.
He tried to hit his way out of trouble, issuing a flashy square cut at a short ball from Nash and sending it spearing toward Lou Vincent at point. Not for the first time in this series, however, Vincent spilled a catch that he should have taken. Therein, he promoted visions that the error might ultimately become a very expensive one for the Black Caps.
Suitably encouraged to think he was safe to play the shot again, Martyn wasn't anywhere near as lucky, though, as he unwisely repeated the dose only two balls later. Vincent made amends (this time holding the catch at around head height), Bond was delighted, and Australia was in massive early trouble.
Worse was to come for the locals as Gilchrist's stumps were shattered by an electric inswinging yorker from Bond in his following over.
Steve Waugh (12*) and Michael Bevan (11*) were then thrown together as Australia's need to mount a major exercise in damage limitation became ever-more pressing. They have successfully guarded against further losses but, from the ruin of 4/26, at least one of them will need to produce quite some innings for Australia to restore anything like balance in this match.
Just as well for the Australians that their opponents didn't score as big a total as they should have done earlier in the day. Otherwise, the picture would have looked even uglier for them by now.
On a true pitch, the New Zealanders looked headed for a huge total as Astle (95) and Lou Vincent (55) took their team to a mark of 2/143 after 31 overs.
Yet Vincent's miscued slog-sweep at the part-time off spin of Mark Waugh (2/38) ushered in a disappointing decline for the Black Caps.
They hit back again by crashing 16 runs from the final over of the very expensive Andy Bichel (0/57) to eventually end at 5/242.
But Craig McMillan (8), Stephen Fleming (13) and then Astle - five runs short of his 12th one-day international century - all succumbed in quick succession prior to that time to ensure that the rug was pulled from under the innings.
Chris Cairns (39*), who benefited from a botched run out and a dropped catch, injected the occasional meaty blow in the closing stages but, by that point, Australia's bowlers had compromised the tourists' capacity to accelerate effectively.
That they were able to do this was due to some bold captaincy from Steve Waugh in introducing his brother in the middle stages of the innings, and in having his bowlers slow the pace of the game on the New Zealand batsmen. Jason Gillespie (0/40) and Glenn McGrath (2/36) also bowled with great control by sacrificing speed in the name of accuracy.
Albeit that the Black Caps were their own worst enemy at times. McMillan appeared to be more interested in taking the mickey out of the attack than playing a long innings - particularly when adopting a peculiar two-eyed, two-legged stance to the spin of Waugh. In fronting the bowler directly, the pugnacious right hander seemed only to confound himself, meekly playing off a leading edge to Waugh to complete a brief stay.
Fleming also struggled to bring momentum to the innings, lashing at the ball with admirable intent but often battling to middle it. He eventually seemed to become the victim of his own frustration as he charged down the pitch at the leg spin of Shane Warne (1/33) to be stumped.
Astle, having reached a score of 78 from 90 deliveries at one point, was eventually reduced to the look of a forlorn figure as well as the Australians produced a series of full length balls and frustrated his ability to free his arms and swing with power.
Cairns struck three belligerent sixes down the ground - one off McGrath and two from Bichel respectively - but the New Zealanders' capacity to find the boundary was rarely evident in the concluding stages of the innings.
At the core of the early passages of the game has been a 128-run partnership for the second wicket by Nathan Astle (75*) and Lou Vincent (55).
Astle, backing up some fine domestic form at home, has been in commanding touch. He issued his scoring shots almost exclusively square of the wicket as he began his innings but his play has blossomed to incorporate a wide range of defensive and attacking strokes.
Apart from the fleeting play and miss - and a desperately close escape from a run out appeal at 23 - Vincent also produced an innings littered with crisp strokes. After a terrific debut Test in Australia, the busy right hander has enjoyed only mixed form in the one-day series. His return to the city in which he was raised, though, seemed to provide the spark he needed to raise his game to a high level again. He quickly surpassed his previous best one-day international score of 45 and then registered a maiden half-century with a neat glance to the fine leg boundary off the medium pace bowling of Andrew Symonds.
It was only when he miscued with a slog-sweep at the part-time off spin of Mark Waugh that his enterprising association with Astle met its end point. Symonds needed no more than the sight of the ball arrowing toward a position around 15 metres in from the mid wicket boundary for his eyes to light up and his body to propel him quickly toward the ball with a sprint and full dive. He completed an excellent catch, coming forward and low to the ground.
Under the onslaught produced by the batsmen, and in the face of a temperature which appears only to be rising, the Australians had been showing signs of struggling to find a way through before then.
Nathan Astle (42*), back in the team after a stint on the sidelines with an injured wrist, and Lou Vincent (24*) have been the men at the bridge as the tourists have overcome their first-over setback.
Each batsman was slow to begin, playing with great vigilance against some excellent, disciplined bowling from Glenn McGrath. The Australian spearhead's opening four overs - bowled from the River End - cost the home side a mere four runs.
He also made an important early incision on a pitch that is expected to offer the batsmen a flurry of runs throughout this match. Youngster Brendon McCullum (0) was the batsman out, succumbing to the sixth first-over dismissal of the series when he fished nervously at a ball of good length just outside the line of off stump and edged a regulation catch to wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist.
Astle broke the shackles against the pace of Jason Gillespie, opening his account with a delightful shot through mid wicket off the pads and then serially cracking the ball square of the wicket. A magnificent square cut at Gillespie added another six runs to the tally a short time later, and pulling and cutting dominated his early array of shots.
Vincent collected his runs in more unobtrusive style but didn't play significantly less attractively. Characteristically, some nicely timed drives through the covers and the arc between mid on and mid off have figured prominently.
It wasn't all plain sailing for the New Zealanders, though.
Vincent - with his score at 23 - looked particularly fortunate to survive a run out appeal as third umpire Daryl Harper exhaustively analysed a series of replays of the batsman's slide to the wicketkeeper's end to complete a sharply taken single. Astle had driven to Steve Waugh at mid on and set off with the stroke but Vincent was not so keen. He struggled to attain sanctuary in time to beat Gilchrist's re-direction of the ball into the stumps as he fielded the return.
Television replays suggested that Vincent's bat may have been in the air as the bails were removed, but umpire Harper - the target of much unfair criticism this summer - awarded the benefit of any doubt to the New Zealander.
Astle also survived his own scare - at 33 - later in the same over. He swept errantly at a leg break from Shane Warne and a huge caught behind appeal ensued. But umpire Steve Davis decreed that the ball had done no more than graze the batsman's back leg on the way through to Gilchrist.
A holiday mood - in keeping with the commemoration of Australia's national day - has gripped a warm and sunny Adelaide and the ground is already close to overflowing with spectators.
Many have undoubtedly come in the hope of witnessing one of the best games of the series. They would at least be entitled to assume that will be the case given that it's a match that is likely to go a long way toward shaping the identity of the two teams which will progress to the finals of this three-cornered tournament.
With the Trans-Tasman rivals duelling for ownership of an outright lead on the competition points table, the winner of this contest should take a major step toward securing a berth in the deciders.
To that end, it has been a satisfying start to the day for the tourists, with captain Stephen Fleming winning the toss and deciding that his team will bat first.
Like the team's supporters back home, he'll be hoping that his batsmen will be able to make excellent use of a pitch likely to play well in favour of the two teams' strokemakers. And he'll almost certainly be mindful too of the fact that the Kiwis' two victories over Australia in this series have both been achieved by batting first.
To help in the task, the New Zealanders have welcomed Nathan Astle and Dion Nash - two of their finest players - back into the eleven. Out of form opening batsman Mark Richardson and left arm pace bowler James Franklin are the men omitted.
The Australians, for their part, have made no changes to the side that crushed South Africa in Sydney on Tuesday.
Interestingly, the Australians have yet to defeat the Black Caps this summer, having encountered a frustrating streak of poor weather during the teams' three-match Test series and having crashed to defeat in two difficult run chases during the one-day program.
They will be desperately hoping to reverse that pattern today.
Date-stamped : 26 Jan2002 - 14:36