Second Test


At Wellington, March 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. Drawn. Toss: Australia.

Going into the last day at the Basin Reserve, Australia were looking to Warne's leg-spin to bring them a second win to take the series. It was not an unreasonable expectation. New Zealand, fielding only five recognised batsmen, were three down with a lead of 71, Wright was in cotton wool with an ankle injury and the memory of Christchurch was fresh in everyone's minds. Yet, by the time the game was called off an hour before the scheduled close, New Zealand had drawn the match; indeed, had six hours not been lost, mostly to rain on the first day, they might even have won.

The rehabilitation of their fortunes started and ended with Wright, who walked out to open the batting on the first morning and hobbled off on the last afternoon. In between, he stood guard over embattled New Zealand's reputation for more than nine and a half hours. Sent in on a seaming pitch, he and Greatbatch opened with a disciplined 111 before Crowe moved to capitalise on their start. In an effort to make up for lost time, Crowe and Rutherford blazed 49 in the first 38 minutes on the third morning, but then Rutherford was caught behind and New Zealand lost seven wickets for 42. At one stage McDermott took three for five, including Crowe, bowled by an off-cutter for 98. Struck a nasty blow on the helmet by Hughes when nine, Crowe played a brave innings full of his trademark pulls. But he became bogged down in the 90s. While on 97 he was beaten by several superb deliveries from Warne.

An eventful fourth day, in which 11 wickets fell, was also notable for Crowe's temporary surrender of the captaincy - while he remained on the field - to Rutherford for half an hour after lunch. Morrison found his rhythm with the second new ball, taking the last six Australian wickets for a career-best seven for 89. The lifter that claimed Steve Waugh was decidedly unpleasant.

New Zealand led by 31 on the first innings, although they lost Greatbatch, Crowe and Rutherford before stumps; the batting order had been rearranged after Wright hurt his ankle in the field. Needing quick wickets to force a result, Border started with Warne into the wind on the last morning but, strangely, employed only one close fielder - a slip. It was strange, too, that Hughes was not introduced until after drinks in the middle session, when the game was all but dead. Jones and Blain survived a tense first hour without mishap, and only one wicket fell before lunch when Jones was lbw to Warne's flipper. Blain, flown in the day before the match to replace Parore, who was hit on the head in the nets, proved a doughty competitor, responding admirably to the challenge of batting at No. 5 when New Zealand could ill afford an outbreak of panic.

Man of the Match: D. K. Morrison.

Close of play: First day, New Zealand 28-0 (M. J. Greatbatch 13*, J. G. Wright 10*); Second day, New Zealand 237-3 (M. D. Crowe 62*, K. R. Rutherford 14*); Third day, Australia 107-2 (J. L. Langer 8*, M. E. Waugh O*); Fourth day, New Zealand 40-3 (A. H. Jones 20*, T. E. Blain 2*).

© John Wisden & Co