Katich keeps Aussies ahead in low-scoring affair

November 21, 2008

simon_katich

Thunderstorms on the eve of Australia’s first Test against New Zealand at the Gabba seem to have left severe after-effects with batting orders being blown away during the first two days of play.

The New Zealanders failed to build on their terrific bowling on the opening day when they bowled out Australia for 214, as the hosts replied with a clinical bowling display to skittle out the Kiwis for 156 before tea. The Australian second innings, however, followed a similar trend as they were reduced to 131-6 by stumps on a day where 16 wickets fell.

A first-innings cushion of 58 runs, though, could turn out to be more than handy on a green Gabba surface as the Australians were 189 ahead, with opener Simon Katich unbeaten on 67 while Brad Haddin was on six.

New Zealand, beginning the day with all their wickets intact, were jolted up front when Stuart Clark and Brett Lee made quick inroads to remove openers Aaron Redmond and Jamie How, before Jesse Ryder was sent back by Shane Watson for 30. They went on to lose another wicket before lunch, when Brendon McCullum fell to Mitchell Johnson for eight.

It would have made more sense to take the side as near to the Australian mark if not overhaul it at 73-4, but a spiteful pitch, already proven by the events on the opening morning when Australia were bundled out, gave no signs of wear. Ross Taylor’s entertaining 51-ball 40 was cut short when he was trapped leg before by Brett Lee. The top order had been massacred; of the next six only Grant Elliott, who remained unbeaten on 39, got into double figures as Mitchell Johnson returned to polish off the tail to end with 4 for 30.

The Australian second innings followed a similar script. Matthew Hayden’s appalling series in India seems to be taking its toll on the batsman, although the delivery he got from Chris Martin first up would have set anyone off for the walk. Captain Ricky Ponting wasn’t prepared to play the waiting game, and an unsuccessful pull resulted in his dismissal.

The umpires did their bit to add to the batsmen’s woes on a fiesty pitch, as Michael Hussey was adjudged caught behind. The Aussies also suffered from their impatience as Michael Clarke was run out by a superb Aaron Redmond, on the back of three run outs during Australia’s last Test loss to India at Nagpur.

Opener Simon Katich, however, could end up be the difference between the side’s fortunes. The left-hander displayed outstanding patience and doggedness to be 67 not out. If he stretches his score, Australia would hold all the important going into the third day which might as well prove to be the last.

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