Spinners turn it on
New Zealand made a sturdy start on the second morning, forcing Michael Clarke to revert to his spin bowler Nathan Lyon in search of the sixth wicket. Lyon should have claimed the wicket of Daniel Vettori with his second ball. Misjudging his opposite number's length, Vettori top edged an attempted sweep, and sent a chance lobbing in the direction of Mitchell Starc. Running with the flight, Starc seemed to have the chance covered, but allowed himself to be distracted by the peripheral figure of David Warner, strolling in from midwicket. The chance fell between them, and Vettori continued to frustrate the hosts.
Vettori has never made a Test century against Australia, and seemed suddenly to become acutely aware of the fact when he paddled Lyon to the boundary to move to 96. Though Dean Brownlie was assured at the other end, Vettori decided that he had to pinch the strike at the end of the over, driving straight to mid-off and running with the shot. Unfortunately for Vettori, the man posted there was not a nervy youngster but the ageless Michael Hussey, who picked up, threw and hit middle stump as the batsman sprawled towards the crease in a despairing dive. Vettori remained prostrate for a moment, considering the folly of what he had done.
Vettori took the new ball for the visitors, becoming the first spin bowler to do so at the Gabba since Bill O'Reilly's leg breaks were employed by Australia against England in Brisbane's Bodyline Test of 1932-33. Lyon and Vettori both made welcome history for the undersung art of spin bowling at the venue: Lyon's 4-69 was the best first innings analysis by an Australian finger spinner at the ground since Bert "Dainty" Ironmonger's 4-44 in 1931-32.
Clarke had 23 fluent runs and a burgeoning stand with Ricky Ponting in the final session when Doug Bracewell put one delivery in a sufficiently awkward spot to have the captain cuffing onto the stumps while trying to withdraw his bat. A critical wicket appeared to have put New Zealand back into the contest … until Clarke had walked halfway to the boundary. The umpire Asad Rauf suspected a no-ball, and upon consultation with video replays Bracewell was judged to have overstepped. It was not the first time Clarke was reprieved by a posthumous no-ball call - against India in 2010 he flicked his first ball to midwicket but was saved by Ian Gould's referral to video evidence - but this time he looked intent on making the most of it. In Mohali last year Clarke had not survived the same Ishant Sharma over in which he was reprieved.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo