A day for the bowlers - Martin
Chris Martin turned 37 on the day two at Bellerive Oval. His birthday present was a second consecutive strong bowling effort against Australia. This time, his team-mates were just as good. And if they back it up in the second innings, victory over Australia will be theirs for the first time in a generation.
To skittle Australia for 136 is the kind of performance Martin has dreamt of for a decade. Before this series, he had played ten Tests against Australia and had taken 15 wickets at 86.53. It was hard to say if he was more embarrassed about his bowling record against them or his batting figures.
That started to change in Brisbane, where he took four wickets, and in Hobart he collected three, as did Doug Bracewell and the debutant Trent Boult, while Tim Southee picked up perhaps the most important victim, Ricky Ponting. At no point did they let the pressure drop significantly and as a result, Australia recorded their lowest total at home against New Zealand.
The ball seamed and swung, and Australia's batsmen struggled to handle the movement. After New Zealand were rolled for 150 in their first innings, there appeared every chance the match could be over in three days. The weather might not allow that, but all the same Martin said it had been a long while since he had seen a Test surface with so much in it for the bowlers.
"In a Test match it has been a long time," he said. "If you look around the world there's not too much variety in pitches. A day's Test cricket like that definitely makes people watch. It's difficult. I've toured places like India and the subcontinent and it's always a tough, long day with plenty of runs. But if you're a connoisseur of swing bowling, seam bowling, then today is a really enjoyable day's cricket."
By closing the second day with a lead of 153 and seven wickets in hand, New Zealand have given themselves their best chance in ten years of beating the Australians. And although the pitch is expected to become less difficult for the batsmen over the next two days, their advantage over Australia was already alarmingly large.
"It's a tough ask for any top-order batsmen out there today to feel comfortable, to feel in," Martin said. "It's one for the bowlers today. I suppose 150 on that pitch on the first day has turned out to be a reasonable score. It's quite a tough picture to paint with the rest of the Test, with how it's going to go. I know that sitting here at 150 runs in front we're feeling good. I don't know how many runs are needed. We'll just see how we go tomorrow."
Martin believes Phillip Hughes will be under serious pressure when it comes time for Australia to begin their chase. Hughes will walk to the crease in the second innings playing for his Test future. Three times from three innings in this series he has been caught by Martin Guptill, either at gully or slip, off the bowling of Martin, the angle across him proving hard to handle. His best score in the series has been 10.
"I feel like I've put the ball in a good spot to him," Martin said. "He's feeling for it a little bit and he's nicked a couple. I suppose for a guy who's struggling, this isn't the sort of pitch that you want to feel for your next knock and where your runs are coming from. He's under pressure, I suppose. We just have to keep bowling in the right spots.
"I'll just keep doing what I'm doing. He'll be feeling under pressure and that's never a good place. I've felt under pressure for my spot in the past, so it's always a difficult challenge and one if you get on top of you're a lot stronger for it."
First though, Australia need to find a way through the rest of the New Zealand order. Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson were both well set at stumps, having judiciously left the ball and played wisely. At times, the Australian fast bowlers strayed startlingly down leg or with bouncers that easily sailed over the batsmen's heads, and Peter Siddle said it was important to stick to what worked in the first innings.
"It's always nice to get a wicket that is a little bit bowler-friendly, but it's not always that easy [because of that]," Siddle said. "There's still a lot of work has to be done by us bowlers, we do have to bowl some good lines, good areas and be patient. Sometimes on these wickets you can tend to go searching a little bit and try too hard and end up with figures that you're not very proud of.
"When the sun does come out and you get a bit of heat on that wicket, to dry it out a little bit, it does quicken up a little bit and does seem a little bit easier to score. Hopefully tomorrow morning the clouds are out and it's a little bit overcast for us in the first session."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo