Australia survive late Vettori scare
Australia 273 for 7 (Hussey 56, White 54, Haddin 53) beat New Zealand 253 (Vettori 70, Johnson 4-51) by 12 runs (D/L method)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Daniel Vettori stuck his stiff neck out with a brilliant innings that nearly delivered victory for New Zealand but Ryan Harris chopped him off to end the plucky fight as Australia levelled the series 1-1. There were some very nervous moments for Australia as they let New Zealand recover from 131 for 6 to almost reach their goal of 266 before the visitors' blushes were saved.
It came down to 13 required from 11 balls when Vettori walked across his stumps and attempted a shot he had used to great effect throughout his innings. However, this time when he tried to flick Harris behind square leg his stumps were rattled, his fightback finished at 70 from 49 balls, and Australia avoided going down 2-0 with three to play.
Vettori almost sat out of the game - he would have rested his sore neck again had his vice-captain Ross Taylor not been a late withdrawal with a leg injury - and he ended up as the Man of the Match in his lost cause. He compiled important lower-order partnerships with Gareth Hopkins and Daryl Tuffey before Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris ended the dream.
Johnson went from villain to hero for Australia with a four-wicket haul that included two breakthroughs at the top of the order and two vital strikes to remove Vettori's partners. Johnson had been booed when he first walked to the crease, following his altercation with Scott Styris in Napier, but by the end he had let his bowling do the talking.
He had Tuffey caught at slip for 20 and bowled Shane Bond for 6 to help Australia over the line after they looked to be cruising when rain interrupted New Zealand's chase. The hosts lost five overs and had their target reduced by eight runs and it was the loss of top-order wickets that was the big problem for them.
Brendon McCullum had struck two sixes in his 24 before he fell to a brilliant catch from Brad Haddin, leaping high to his right to take the ball in front of first slip's face off Johnson. Harris followed by trapping Peter Ingram and Neil Broom lbw from consecutive balls and although James Franklin survived the hat-trick ball, he was soon caught behind off Johnson to leave New Zealand at 46 for 4.
The resistance started with Scott Styris' 46 and 35 from Hopkins, before Vettori started to find the gaps and improvised by walking across his stumps and backing away with superb judgment. In the end it wasn't enough but Australia cannot sit back and assume that all is hunky-dory.
Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke, their captain and vice-captain, fell to dreadful shots before they were settled and there was a 300-plus total on offer after the openers pushed the score to 73 for 0 in the 14th over. Shane Watson made a bright 47 from 48 before he picked out the man at deep midwicket off Tuffey.
Haddin (53) looked like anchoring the innings and twice sent Vettori deliveries back over the bowler's head for six. He was trying a similar drive when Vettori took a lightning fast reflex catch thrusting out his left hand as Haddin's shot seemed to be rocketing past him.
At least Haddin could consider himself a trifle unlucky. Ponting had nobody to blame but himself when from his fourth ball he went for an uncharacteristic wild swipe at Vettori and skied a catch to cover. Clarke made 11 and also failed to show his best judgment when he tried a strange, mangled pull from outside off that lobbed to mid-on and gave Bond his first of two wickets.
From there, it was Michael Hussey (56) and Cameron White who rebuilt. White compiled his runs steadily until the 43rd over, when he launched Franklin for two sixes from the first two deliveries. Neither came out of the middle of the bat but the small Eden Park dimensions allowed him to clear the boundary at midwicket and mid-on.
However, when he tried to do the same with the third ball he mistimed it and was taken at long-on by McCullum for 54. The drama didn't end there as Franklin left the field along with the batsman, having hurt his hamstring. It added to an ultimately disappointing day for New Zealand, who had already lost Jacob Oram to a knee injury in the first game. But as Vettori showed, the walking wounded can still fight.
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo