Kiwis storming despite six McGrath blows
Glenn McGrath pulled Australia out of their self-induced bowling misery with a mesmerising six-wicket spell, but they were still experiencing extreme pressure from New Zealand. Australia's Top End has been battered by Cyclone Ingrid, a system which generated winds up to 240kph over the past couple of days, but while the storm's status has been downgraded it is still a serious threat. The country's cricketers understand the situation.
New Zealand have blown through their opponents over two days, although the breeze eased when McGrath reversed his bowling attack's fortunes with late-innings swing to wrap up New Zealand for 433 when 500 was realistic. The damage caused by Hamish Marshall's 146, Nathan Astle's 74 and three wickets meant a deficit of 292 runs, but the world champions were thankful because it could have been worse.
Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden, who became Iain O'Brien's first dismissal after escaping a superb one-handed Craig Cumming grab ruled not out by the video umpire, both fell as New Zealand stayed in control, and they roared to stumps when Daniel Vettori won an lbw from David Shepherd against Damien Martyn in the second-last over. Ricky Ponting stepped safely to stumps unbeaten on 41 with his team puffing at 141 for 3.
Shaking Australia out of their slumber either side of lunch, McGrath dredged six wickets for 40 after boasting the unflattering figures of 0 for 75 in 32 overs. Cleverly manipulating the old ball at will, he dug deep into his repertoire for a host of variations and his next ten overs sparkled. It was a major turnaround after New Zealand had scored a run-a-minute for the first hour and Australia's sluggishness from day one remained.
Marshall, who hurried in adding 43 to his debut Test century, was again impressive alongside Astle until his 24-boundary display ended with a magical ball from Shane Warne. From that point the batting became more vulnerable.
McGrath woke with a stomach problem, but ran in deciding against muscling his opponents and out-thinking them instead. An outswinger curved into Craig McMillan's edge and Astle and Brendon McCullum, who he twice hit on the forearm with short balls, were lined up after lunch. McCullum's discomfort was visible and he fell to a mistimed drive after Astle departed and New Zealand were 403 for 7.
Curbing his aggression to play a valuable innings, Astle started in a support role and grew into a senior one. The switch towards application guided his side towards relative safety before he misjudged a full McGrath delivery that seared into his shin on the full. The darting movement was too much for the tail and Franklin, O'Brien and Martin were added to conclude the fightback.
New Zealand dominated the first session and scored freely until Warne produced a ball to place on his top shelf when he bowled Marshall through his legs with a fierce-spinning, drifting delivery. The wicket was crucial to raising Australia's shoulders and bringing in a spreading field.
Warne aimed an in-drifting legspinner into the rough and the late movement deceived Marshall, who spread his legs to maintain balance, and the huge turn pushed the ball past his left knee to knock back middle stump. Marshall's delicious innings lasted 256 balls and he now owns the equal-highest score for a New Zealander on debut against Australia with Mark Greatbatch. The reaction from Warne was considered, but he was re-energised. It had the same effect on McGrath.
A distraction in the first session was the unofficial investigation of Sky's elbow ruler to highlight the ICC's bowling change to 15-degrees of flexibility. The loose camera research concluded Michael Kasprowicz had a one-degree bend and McGrath's arm flexed seven degrees through delivery. The six blows from today's bowling were official and outstanding, but New Zealand are running with the wind.
Marshall b Warne 146 (330 for 4)
Pushing to midwicket, he missed a big-spinning, big-drifting legspinner and the ball hit middle after threading his legs.
McMillan c Gilchrist b McGrath 13 (355 for 5)
Toying with reverse swing, McGrath chose an outswinger and caught the edge with McMillan playing away from his body.
Astle lbw b McGrath 74 (388 for 6)
Hit on the shin in line with off after missing a late, full inswinger.
McCullum c Langer b McGrath 29 (403 for 7)
Curled a drive to cover where Langer took a comfortable catch.
Franklin lbw McGrath 0 (403 for 8)
Played for a straight ball and got a late inswinger.
O'Brien c Gilchrist b McGrath 5 (415 for 9)
Hooking awkwardly, ball appeared to tip glove and clipped helmet on the way through.
Martin c Gilchrist b McGrath 1 (433)
Drove loosely and thick-edged to Gilchrist.
Langer b Franklin 23 (48 for 1)
Waved outside off with no feet movement and under-edged on to his stumps.
Hayden c Astle b O'Brien 35 (75 for 2)
Astle snapped up a fine diving catch to his right from a hard driving edge at second slip.
Martyn lbw Vettori 32 (140 for 3)
Pushed back by Vettori, he inside-edged a quicker, straighter ball and was given out by Shepherd.
Peter English is Australasian editor of Cricinfo.