It was Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris who were Australia’s heroes with the ball at the end of the second ODI. Australia survived a late scare from the new Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori after his he displayed a wonderful array of shots all round the wicket en route his innings of 70 of just 49 balls. Vettori exposed his stumps all day as he moved across his stumps and flicked for boundaries in the square leg, long leg region. New Zealand were in tatters before Daniel Vettori walked in with the score being 131 for 6 and the black caps still needing another 135 off 114 deliveries.
Earlier in the day ponting had called right for the second time in a row and surmisably Australia decided to bat first. The Australians failed to convert another good start provided by their openers Watson (47) and Haddin (53). Both the openers failed to carry on and were dismissed in an attempt to increase the tempo. Ricky ponting and his deputy Michael Clarke both fell to dismal strokes leaving Australia in trouble at 116 for 4. It was up to Cameron white and Michael Hussey to dig them out of the hole that they had created from themselves to a substantial total.
Call him Mr. Cricket or Mr. Fixit, Michael Hussey always comes up with the goods when the Australians need him. And so he did this time around too as he put on a game changing partnership of over a 100 with Cameron white. The duo were flawless and looked set to help Australia put on a score off over 300 before Cameron white holed out in the deep to Brendon McCullum. The wicket fell just against the run off play and halted proceedings for a while as Australia once again posted a below par score off 273.
White fell before hammering two consecutive massive sixes of James Franklin who later stretched his hamstring. He (white) fell in an attempt to clear the boundary on the third instance. The strategy seemed logic less as it was the 43rd over and Australia still had their batting power play in hand. Had they taken it white would possibly have carried on.
New Zealand started their chase with Brendon McCullum attacking Doug Bollinger. Bollinger really had one of his off days, perhaps his worst of the summer. Ponting was very pro-active throughout the day. He saw that, and immediately brought in a change he brought in Mitchell Johnson to bowl in the 5th over of the New Zealand innings.
The crowd with their ‘booing’ tried to put Johnson off his game all day but only inspired him to perform better. Johnson, on the day let the ball do the talking by picking up a 4-for. Before he started his spell, Johnson at the top of his run up turned, faced the west stand and kissed his Australian coat of arms and accounted for McCullum in his first over itself. Ponting in the post match presentation said that the emotional quickie was only spurred on “if anything” by the whole saga today.
Johnson was seen accompanied by a security personnel while fielding at the boundary. Ryan Harris struck with a couple of L.B.W’s off consecutive balls putting Australia in front before the rain finally came. The match was then reduced to 45 over one with the black caps needing 266 to win (D/L method). Australia were in the driver’s seat before Styris (Australia’s undoing the last time round), Hopkins and Tuffey all played well around their skipper Daniel Vettori who gave the Australia some butterflies.
In the end it came down to 13 off 11 balls as Vettori tried another of his flicks only to see his stumps rattled by Ryan Harris. How ironic it was that the match had to end with Vettori playing his, for the day ‘flick’. The anguish was etched on Vettori’s face after he was dismissed for a classy 70. Ponting later said that this wasn’t Australia best performance by any stretch of imagination and they had a lot of work to do. Australia do need to do some “fine tuning” before they go in to Hamilton’s fixture on Tuesday.
New Zealand’s hero was set to miss the match as he decided to rest his neck but was forced to play after Ross Taylor injured his leg during practice. With Oram also missing Vettori had to play. However, Vettori showed “A wounded man can still hurt you”—just.
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