Australians make it easy in the end
Justin Langer's quick-fire century led Australia to a six-wicket win in the final test of the National Bank series in New Zealand, the virtually unchallenged march to the 210 needed for victory hardly in keeping with the ebb and flow of the previous three days.
Australia started the fourth day of the third test on another beautiful Hamilton needing 73 runs with seven wickets in hand to complete a 3-0 whitewash of New Zealand and extend their winning streak to 10.
Justin Langer resumed on 71 and Steve Waugh on 1. Chris Cairns opened up from the grandstand end and steady accumulation rather than shots in anger saw 10 come off the first over. A Langer drive through extra-cover off Shayne O'Connor brought the 150 up in the fourth over of the morning, taking just 135 minutes.
Cairns continued to suffer, Waugh taking consecutive fours past point and through extra cover. Cairns, not surprisingly, was replaced after three overs but Daryl Tuffey fared no better, Waugh back cutting for his third boundary of the morning. However, Tuffey did get one to rise sharply on Waugh, catching him on the forearm and requiring running repairs.
Langer continued on towards his century, an edge along the ground past the slips taking him into the nineties. The 50 partnership came up in eighth over of the morning, taking just 44 minutes and coming off 59 balls. But Waugh was clearly in some discomfort and at the end of the eighth over he left the field, retiring hurt for 18 with the score at 175, just 35 needed to win.
Damien Martyn joined Langer, another edge from O'Connor taking the lefthander to 96 and a cover drive to his seventh century in tests, completed in 147 minutes and taking just 102 balls. However, Martyn did not last long, surviving a missed opportunity by Adam Parore behind the stumps off O'Connor before going next ball for 4, a thoughtful Umpire Dunn giving him lbw in the 10th over of the morning with the score at 190.
Adam Gilchrist joined the century-maker with 20 runs required for victory. The 200 came up in 173 minutes courtesy of a Langer drive through extra cover in the 13th over of the morning and the end was not long in coming although Tuffey just missed his first test wicket, a Langer edge falling out of reach of a diving Parore and just short of Fleming at first slip.
Langer, finishing on 122, appropriately ended it with a cover drive off McMillan, taking the total to 212 for 4 in the 42nd over, the 14th of the morning.
Wiseman ended with two for 42 off nine overs, O'Connor two for 53 off 11. Cairns 10 overs had cost 60 runs, Tuffey's 11 52.
In the end, the win to Australia was comprehensive, by six wickets with a day and two-and-a-half sessions to spare.