Rain or no rain, Australia continue to torment New Zealand
When an entire day of test cricket is lost to rain, it is more or less fair to assume that the game will end in a draw
. That maxim does not hold when Australia are one of the teams. New Zealand were at the receiving end of yet another Gilchrist special
and were asked to follow-on, 326 runs behind
by Ponting. This is the first time Australia have enforced the follow-on since October 2003
Both teams were unchanged as predictablee enough, Australia left out Lee
. Apologies for the awful pun. At the end of what was effectively the first day of the game, Australia had scored 337/5. Langer and Hayden got them off to a solid start and then there was the familiar middle order wobble as Vettori bowled superbly and tightly. Ponting and Clarke were out cheaply while Katich didnt convert his 35 into a bigger score. At the other end, Martyn looked in great touch and scored his 12th test century. The proceedings were normal until Gilchrist joined him. Katich was dismissed in the 84th over. In the 14 overs before stumps, the pair added 90 runs. The bedlam continued the next day with the century partnership coming up at around 5.3 runs an over and the 150 partnership at over 6 runs an over.
The preliminary research which indicated Gilchrists' weakness
against quality spin, as if you can not
have a weakness against quality bowlers, did not quite work for New Zealand. He brought up his century, his fifteenth in tests, off just 86 balls. Martyn and he had a partnership of 256 in just 46 overs. Martyn was out for 165, his highest test score. Gilchrist wasnt done yet and he plundered more runs from the hopeless Kiwi bowlers, racing on to 162 off just 146 balls before James Franklin caught him off his own bowling. Shane Warne slogged a rapid fifty before Ponting declared.
New Zealand's start was woeful. Fleming padded up to McGrath and after a brief partnership with Cumming, Marshall hooked to Gillespie at fineleg. More damage followed as Kasprowicz cleaned up Cumming and Astle got out to Clarke, of all people, leaving New Zealand on 122/4 at stumps with two more days to go.
Rain meant that there was no play on the first session of the fourth day. However, Australia only needed a further 42 overs to wrap up New Zealand's innings on 244. Nightwatchman Franklin hung around for a while, as did McMillan. However McMillan's cricketing future must be in real doubt now following his recent run of poor scores and the horrible shots he plays to get over his lack of form. Today, after hitting Warne for a six, he tried to slog sweep him and ended up losing his stumps. Vettori faced the bulk of the bowling at the end, scoring 45 entertaining runs before giving Warne his third wicket of the innings.
One more day left, New Zealand 326 runs behind and ten wickets in hand? Drawn game? Naah!