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March 27, 2010
News : Consistent Katich chases bigger scores
News : Déjà vu for Ponting and Co
Report : Vettori leads New Zealand's strong surge
Matches: New Zealand v Australia at Hamilton
Series/Tournaments: Australia tour of New Zealand
Daniel Vettori's wife calls him the Captain of Everything, which goes back to when he was appointed skipper in all three formats and plans for split leadership with Stephen Fleming were shelved. It could also refer to his role as the team's best bowler, most consistent batsman and their general in the field. New Zealand have relied so heavily on Vettori so often that despite being in his 100th Test he has celebrated fewer wins (31) than Michael Hussey (33), who is playing his 50th.
On the day that Vettori marked his milestone he was once again the star with four wickets, a direct-hit run-out and some well-thought-out field placements. But this time, he had support. From the moment New Zealand strode on to Seddon Park to the time when Vettori led them off to a standing ovation, his men looked sharp. Catches were held, pressure was maintained and Australia were skittled for their lowest total in New Zealand in a decade.
Nothing would please New Zealand fans more than seeing Vettori finally enjoy a Test win over Australia. The same intensity will need to be shown over the coming days but Vettori gave his men a good start. They rushed to their captain to congratulate him when his throw from mid-off ended the innings of Ricky Ponting, who has sung the team song after beating New Zealand in nine Tests during his 12-year rivalry with Vettori.
It was a big wicket. Tim Southee had picked up Shane Watson early but Ponting and Simon Katich had looked comfortable and the run-out sparked something from the New Zealanders. Southee, who said the team wanted to lift for their captain, went on to collect four wickets and it is only when the fast men back Vettori that New Zealand look at their best.
Then there was the plot conceived by Vettori to place a man at deep mid-on, hoping Michael Clarke would try to clear the field off Jeetan Patel. The trap worked. Southee held a good catch - none were spilled during the innings - and although some of the wickets fell to batsman error the bowlers stuck to their plans with diligence.
That the pressure built on Australia was yet another tribute to Vettori. He bowled tight, giving the Australians no freedom to attack, and Marcus North and Brad Haddin fell at the other end to Southee when they sought to find runs off him instead. Vettori won his personal rewards at the finish, with three lower-order wickets to finish the innings with 4 for 36 in his 20th over.
"It was a good day," Vettori said. "To turn round from where we were at the Basin, by only being able to take five wickets, and to step up today on a pretty good wicket was impressive. I couldn't really have asked for too much more from the day's play. Losing that last wicket right at the end put a little bit of a tarnish on it but I think our track record suggests it has to be five good days as opposed to one."
The first day of his 100th Test could hardly have gone any better. The previous night his father Renzo, who was born in a small village in the Dolomites of Italy, had been invited to present Vettori with the cap for his milestone game.
Across the road from Seddon Park, a supermarket was stocking kiwi-fruit imported from the world's biggest producer of the item. It wasn't a deliberate tribute to Vettori's heritage but the abundance of Italian kiwis was especially fitting this week.
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