Lethal Lee puts Australia in front

Chris Rosie

March 31, 2000

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Australia's bowling find of the summer, Brett Lee, picked up his second five-wicket bag in just five tests as New Zealand followed their familiar pattern of early collapse, mid order recovery and late disintegration on the first day of the third test at Hamilton.

New Zealand were all out for 232 after being 53 for 4 at one stage. Australia finished the day on 4 for the loss of one wicket. Craig McMillan led the afternoon resurrection while Shayne O'Connor got the obligatory late Australian wicket.

Steve Waugh won the toss and sent New Zealand in to bat on a pitch that looked well-prepared for a five-day match. New Zealand left Bruce Martin, the left-arm spin replacement for Daniel Vettori, out of their playing XI. They included the Northern Districts pace bowler Daryl Tuffey for his first test, playing it on his home ground.

Australia made one change to their winning side, replacing an out-of-form Greg Blewett with Matthew Hayden.

The besieged New Zealand openers managed to get satisfying bat-on-ball early with four slips, two gullies and a short leg hovered expectantly as Glenn McGrath and Lee opened the attack on a beautiful Hamilton day. Australia thought it had become even more sunny in Lee's first over when they celebrated at length an apparent caught-behind against Craig Spearman only to find the visiting Indian umpire, AV Jayapakash, in disagreement. Spearman rubbed it in next ball with the first four of the morning through the vacant point position.

Spearman started to show a liking for Lee outside off, twice crashing him to the extra-cover boundary. However, in the ninth over, the fragile opening partnership yet again disintegrated, a very good ball from McGrath taking the edge of Spearman's crease-bound defence and going through to Adam Gilchrist. Spearman gone for 12 with the score at 22 and another shaky performer in Mathew Sinclair on his way to the wicket.

Sinclair started comfortably enough but Horne continued to look out of sorts, McGrath beating his defence four times in one over without managing to get a touch. At the other end Lee looked less effective, his 23 runs off five overs prompting his replacement by Shane Warne at the city end in the 12th over.

At the end of the first hour, New Zealand were 39 for 1.

Warne continued after the drinks break, getting interesting turn. But it was at the other end that the second of the New Zealanders departed, a deserving McGrath getting Horne on 12 caught behind, although replays suggested fortuitously.

Captain Stephen Fleming joined Sinclair and, like Horne before him, found McGrath sliding past his defensive bat. However, the pair brought up the 50 in the 18th over, courtesy of a fluent cover drive from Sinclair off McGrath.

Lee took over at the grandstand end from McGrath, whose nine-over spell cost 19 runs and included the scalps of both openers. The change brought immediate profit. Sinclair flailed and Warne at first slip had catching practice. Sinclair had improved on his recent contributions, going for 19, but the New Zealand early score had taken on a familiar appearance.

It got worse. Two balls later with no addition to the 53 on the board, Nathan Astle got a ball high on the pads and was given leg before by the New Zealand umpire, Steve Dunn. Lee, as in Wellington, had two wickets in one over to leave New Zealand yet again playing catch-up cricket from the first session.

Craig McMillan joined his captain, survived a confident bat-pad demand from Warne before cutting the spinner past a diving close third man for four. Colin Miller, in his off-spin mode, took over from Warne in the 25th over, the leg-spinner's first six of the test going for 16.

The New Zealand pair safely negotiated the rest of the session, going to lunch at 73 for 4, Fleming on 13, McMillan on 5.

McGrath, from the grandstand end, and Warne took over from Lee and Miller after lunch. Fleming and McMillan took just three runs off their first six overs, the frustrations showing when a quick single could have turned suicidal if McGrath, following up, had scored a direct hit.

That miss proved expensive in the context of the innings when McMillan took three fours off the over, two solid drives through extra cover and mid off, the third from a thick edge bouncing past third slip.

However, McGrath was still getting life from the pitch, giving Fleming in particular some uncomfortable moments. Despite his attentions, New Zealand brought up the 100 in the 37th over, taking 225 minutes. An over later they had a 50 run partnership.

Lee relieved his pace colleague in the 39th over. McMillan welcomed him with a straight drive. At the other end, Miller took over from Warne, this time in his medium-pace mode.

The New Zealanders took the score through to 120 at the afternoon drinks break through a combination of watchfulness coupled with the occasional flowing stroke.

Fleming had his moments immediately after the break, Lee catching the edge only to have it drop just short of third slip and go away for four and then having what appeared a justifiably confident leg-before appeal turned down by Umpire Dunne.

However, Lee did not have long to wait for his recompense. Another confident leg-before appeal in the next over brought the required response from Mr Dunne, the New Zealand captain on his way for 30 in the 45th over with the score at 131.

Chris Cairns joined his Canterbury team-mate and immediately turned Lee away forward of square leg for four to open his scoring. McMillan, who had played with admirable control throughout his innings, brought up his 50 in the 46th over in 108 minutes off 84 balls and including nine fours.

Waugh turned to Damien Martyn to replace Lee in the 49th over. With Miller operating from the city end of the ground, both medium pacers, when accurate, managed to get enough movement off the pitch to trouble the batsmen. Martyn, with a very wide one outside off, extracted what in this innings was an uncharacteristic loose shot from McMillan.

A dearth of runs as the bowlers concentrated on a line outside off was broken in the 52nd over, a leg-bye four bringing up the New Zealand 150.

Miller turned to his off spin and Martyn had a confident leg-before appeal against Cairns turned down before the pair took New Zealand through to tea at 158 for 5, McMillan not out 54, Cairns 13.

While Martyn continued after tea, McGrath opened his third spell from the city end. The pace man gained immediate life, collecting Cairns on the helmet, to which the new Zealand all-rounder responded by driving straight back past the bowler's out-stretched arm for four.

The break may have had an effect on McMillan's concentration, a pull for two over mid-wicket and a flailing cut for four off a very wide Martyn delivery bearing little comparison with the controlled shots of the middle session.

However, powerfully driven consecutive fours off McGrath suggested he was back in touch, the second bring up the 50 partnership.

Lee returned for his fourth spell, replacing Martyn in the 63rd over of the day. At the other end, McGrath produced a barrage of short-pitched balls at Cairns, earning himself a bouncer no ball for overdoing it.

Lee was the man to suffer as Cairns reacted, drives in the V bringing four fours, one of them all run courtesy of an overthrow. Lee's second over of the spell went for 17 as the score passed 200 in 278 minutes off 398 balls.

However, it was Lee who broke the partnership. McMillan's recovery of control had been an illusion. In the 67th over, he wafted wildly outside off and Gilchrist completed his demise. McMillan's departure for 79 with the score at 208 brought an end to a 77-run partnership. The wicket was Lee's fourth of the innings.

The arrival of Adam Parore coincided with the return of Warne to the city end, replacing McGrath, and he and Lee applied a stranglehold on the batting, just four runs coming from six overs. Finally, Cairns, on 37, attempted to break the grip with a heave outside off, only to see the ball carry to Martyn diving forward to take the catch at deep backward point.

The wicket was Lee's fifth, his second five-wicket bag in just five tests.

Paul Wiseman joined Parore with the score at 212. They took the score through to 224, with the New Zealand spinner contributing 1 before Warne got one past his attempted sweep.

As a baptism in test cricket, Daryl Tuffey had Warne and Lee to contend with. He got his first run off the spinner. He also saw Lee depart after a nine-over spell that had conceded 22 and included the key wickets of McMillan and Cairns. But that only meant he had to face McGrath, to whom he duly succumbed when on 3 in the 81st over, his defensive shot sufficient only to get the edge to Gilchrist.

Shayne O'Connor joined Parore, the last pair coming together with the score at 227. McGrath took the new ball in the 83rd over and it never had a chance to lose its shine. Its second delivery had O'Connor flicking down the leg side, getting the touch for Gilchrist to do the rest.

New Zealand ended at 232, Parore not out 12 with extras totalling 27, 13 of them no balls.

The speedsters got among the wickets. Lee ended with five for 77 off 23 overs, McGrath four for 58 off 21.

The Australia openers, Michael Slater and the recalled Matthew Hayden, came out with five overs to face before the end of the day's play. Cairns, from the grandstand end, and the left-arm O'Connor opened the attack. Both were getting sufficient life to require evasive action, Slater in particular looking uncomfortable.

However, it was Hayden who failed to last the distance, O'Connor getting one to move away from the left-hander, take the edge and Parore to accept the catch. Warne came in as nightwatchman and he and Slater saw Australia through to the end of the day's play, but not without further trauma, Cairns failing to get a confident leg-before decision from Umpire Dunne.

Australia will start the second day on 4 for 1 with the New Zealand bowlers getting the sort of life needed to keep the team in the match.

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