Carlisle hundred holds Zimbabwe innings together
Close Zimbabwe 256 for 8 (Carlisle 118)
A double first: Stuart Carlisle celebrates his maiden Test century, and the first for Zimbabwe against Australia
Zimbabwe toasted Stuart Carlisle, whose first Test century put the team in a respectable position on the first day of the second Test at Sydney. His 118 was the glue that bound the Zimbabwe innings together, allowing them to go to stumps on 256 for 8.
The manner in which Carlisle built his innings was a delight, a fact acknowledged by the small crowd, which gave him a standing ovation as he left the ground just three overs before the close. He was especially effective on the pull shot, and in his off-side driving. It was an innings that deserved more support from his team-mates.
The next highest score in what was another disappointing collective effort from the side was 27 from Tatenda Taibu. Conditions were difficult for the top order, after overnight and early morning showers left plenty of moisture in the air. Heath Streak, the Zimbabwe captain, decided to bat first mindful of what had happened in the first Test at Perth when Australia amassed 700-plus after being put in. The Australian bowlers were able to swing the ball around almost throughout the day, and while they didn't create as many chances as they would have liked, they kept the batsmen guessing. With the ball moving around so much, plenty of runs were scored off edges which eluded the slip cordon. Conditions were overcast at the start and end of the day, and in the last session the ground lights were turned on.
Streak's decision to bat first put the onus on his top order, but most of them did not place a high enough value on their wicket. They were reduced to 47 for 3, and from there it was always a struggle. Dion Ebrahim (9), Trevor Gripper (15) and Mark Vermeulen (17) were all dismissed early, with Vermeulen becoming the first Test scalp for Brad Williams. Given the new ball ahead of Andy Bichel, Williams made a sound start, moving the ball both ways at a sharp pace. He was rewarded with two wickets, the second one that of Craig Wishart (14), caught behind off a lifter just after lunch (95 for 4).
Andy Bichel celebrates Trevor Gripper's dismissal
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Carlisle was given a life on 36 when Matthew Hayden at first slip completely misjudged a simple catch off Brett Lee, allowing the ball to go through his legs for four. That proved to be a critical point in the day's play, as Carlisle built together successive partnerships to put Zimbabwe's innings back on track. He added 56 for the fifth wicket with Taibu, and 67 for the sixth with Streak. Carlisle was especially severe on Simon Katich, hitting him for two sixes and two fours When Taibu was caught at the wicket, chasing a wide one from Brad Hogg which spun away, it was Gilchrist's 200th Test dismissal, the third Australian wicketkeeper to achieve the landmark.
Streak's wicket, trapped in front by Hogg for 14 (218 for 6), lifted the Australians, who struck twice with the second new ball. Gavin Ewing's debut innings ended for just 2, before Andy Bichel finally got rid of Carlisle with only his second legitimate delivery of the spell, forcing Carlisle to edge a catch to Ricky Ponting at second slip.