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The Bulletin by Peter English
March 21, 2005
Australia's growing charge was again stalled by rain just as Ricky Ponting enforced the follow-on with a massive lead of 326. Michael Kasprowicz reignited Australia's hunt for victory as New Zealand were dismissed for 244 at tea, but the players did not return on a day when it wasn't only the pitch that wanted to stay under the covers.
Two sessions were wiped off by rain and mist hugging the Basin Reserve, and more is forecast for tomorrow. Any lost time on day five will probably ensure an Australia victory is sucked down the drain. If clear skies reappear - it's a big if - New Zealand must show greater application than they did in the first innings against an in-form attack that dealt the wickets around.
Australia's bowlers are fresh after delivering 81.1 overs - only 42.1 were possible today - and finishing off their opponents in a session that lasted almost three hours. Through Lou Vincent and James Franklin New Zealand made a reasonable attempt at crease occupation in their unlikely bid to pass the follow-on target of 421.
Once Vincent, who posted his seventh Test half-century, and James Franklin added 58 Kasprowicz struck twice with two edges, Shane Warne followed it up with Brendon McCullum and Craig McMillan, and New Zealand were all out after some clever Daniel Vettori aggression. Australian hands that were warming in pockets were suddenly preparing for a second bowl. Dwarfed by Australia's mammoth 570 for 8 declared, New Zealand started 448 runs behind and reduced the damage by 122 when the covers went back on for good.
Kasprowicz, running in under ghostly fog suiting his `Kasper' nickname, homed in on both Vincent and Franklin with carefully constructed plans over a couple of overs that produced nicked attempted drives and easy catches for Adam Gilchrist. The naggingly accurate and slippery bowling again showed why he has kept Brett Lee cleaning shoes and wondering when he'll get his next first-class game.
Intent on a long stay, Vincent was happy to front-foot pull the fast bowlers and sweep Warne, and he offered a small acknowledgement for his 115-ball fifty. His partnership with Franklin, the nightwatchman, became irritating for the experimenting Australians. Gilchrist crouched outside leg stump for a couple of deliveries to Warne, who sometimes employed five close-in catchers to Franklin. All were avoided and he played a couple of smart drives on his way to a Test-best 26.
The pair's resistance started talk of time running out for Australia, but then Kasprowicz popped up, giving himself three victims for the innings and 99 in his career. When McCullum arrived in a hurry and pushed his third ball to Michael Clarke at midwicket three wickets had fallen for 18 runs. The boost revived Warne and life was breathed into a dreary session.
McMillan has lost some embarrassing battles to Australia over the summer and was fighting to retain his place. He began under control and then snapped, slogging Warne for a large six over mid-on. He can't help it. From there he was confused and soon left head-down to a horrible swipe on bended knee off Warne.
Jason Gillespie upset Iain O'Brien before Vettori and Chris Martin provided two stumbling blocks. Farming the strike, Vettori crashed eight boundaries in making 45 and Martin successfully tried not to get out. The tactic worked until Vettori picked out Damien Martyn, and more thoughtful batting will be necessary to see off Australia on the final day. Unless it rains.
Franklin c Gilchrist b Kasprowicz 26 (166 for 5)
Feet stayed planted as he eyed a drive but edged instead.
Vincent c Gilchrist b Kasprowicz 63 (180 for 6)
Ball angled in to Vincent, who tried to push through cover but his weight wasn't all the way forward.
McCullum c Clarke b Warne 3 (184 for 7)
Playing outside leg stump, he pushed a catch to a diving Clarke at midwicket.
McMillan b Warne 20 (201 for 8)
Lost his head again, slogging across the line to a ball that hit off stump.
O'Brien b Gillespie 5 (212 for 9)
Yorker brushed pad on the way to leg stump.
Vettori c Martyn b Warne 45 (244)
Caught in the deep hitting to midwicket.
Peter English is the Australasian editor of Cricinfo.
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