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Peter English at the Gabba
November 21, 2008
The No. 6 Daniel Flynn has said it is time for New Zealand's top six batsmen to prove they deserve their spots as they prepare for a difficult chase to win their first Test in Australia since 1985. The tourists wobbled to 156 in their first innings, but stayed in touch by taking six wickets and restricting the hosts' lead to 189 at stumps on the second day.
"We know there's a lot of hard work to do and once we get those four wickets there's a big job ahead of us, especially the top six," Flynn, who scored a determined 39 not out, said. "It's time for us to front up and show we're worthy of our spots in the side."
Flynn was disappointed with the first-innings performance that "let the bowlers down". "But the way the guys came out and turned things around with the ball showed we've got something about us," he said. "We're very happy."
The pitch was tricky and Flynn hoped for some more sun to steal some of the menace from the surface. "A couple of the guys got a few good nuts, which is unfortunate, but that happens," he said. "It's still doing enough. If you put the ball in good areas you're going to do well."
Mitchell Johnson, who took 4 for 30 off eight overs, said there was "some good bowling and some bad shots". "It was a busy day - a few wickets fell - and we're ahead, so we're in a good position," he said. "We'd like to get about 250 or even more."
Johnson was the leading wicket-taker in India with 13 at 40.07 and he performed well in the first couple of Tests before tailing off. After a tiring tour he was revived by the sight of the green Gabba surface and the promise of bounce.
He tricked Brendon McCullum, who started with two crisp boundaries, into edging to Ricky Ponting at second slip and cleaned up New Zealand's innings by removing three tailenders. Faced with the best opportunity in cricket to collect a hat-trick when the No. 11 Chris Martin walked out, Johnson could only get the batsman to play and miss.
"I just can't hit the stumps, that's my problem," he said. "I've had a chance to get a five-for twice in a month and I just tensed up a little bit and tried a bit hard. It was a perfect opportunity to get a hat-trick and a five-for but it didn't happen."
Johnson's figures flattered him slightly, but built on the strong earlier work of Stuart Clark, Brett Lee and Shane Watson. The trio collected two wickets each as New Zealand were dismissed 58 short of Australia's first innings of 214.
Also, best post-war win/loss record, most runs in two calendar years, most ducks in a Test, and brothers with similar numbers
It's close to inexplicable how India's best spinner is being left out in favour of bits-and-pieces players