At Hobart, November 22, 23, 24, 25, 26. Drawn. Toss: New Zealand. Test debut: S. E. Bond.
A hopeful dawn soon became a calamitous morning for New Zealand as their bowling was demolished again by Langer and Hayden. The last time Fleming had invited them to bat, they had piled on 224; this time it was 223, their third consecutive century partnership. Australia, no longer settling for a mere 300 in a day, marched through to a commanding 411 for six at stumps - and it could have been even worse for the Kiwis. Vettori, who had taken nine wickets against South Australia, indicated a return to his best form. A touch of magic, as his left-arm spin obtained just enough purchase to make his arm-ball effective, dragged New Zealand back from hopelessness, claiming the scalps of Hayden and Mark Waugh just before tea, then Martyn and Gilchrist afterwards.
If it had not been for the Derwent River winding quietly past the Bellerive Oval, it could have been a replay of the opening day at the Gabba, when New Zealand were totally outplayed in the morning but fought back doggedly against the middle order. Again, the weather deteriorated, neutralising Australia's outstanding start and leading to another draw. And again, Langer had an early escape - dropped by Bell, at backward point, off Tuffey's first ball.
This time, Langer outshone Hayden. He virtually annihilated the pace attack, stroking his way to 50 off 48 balls, while Hayden, deprived of the strike, managed only a single. He brought up his tenth Test century in 123 balls, and his third in three Tests. The last Australian to achieve this had been David Boon, in England in 1993. Hayden narrowly missed his own hundred, but completed 1,000 Test runs in 2001 when 60.
Australia's 411 was thought to be their most in a day since England conceded 475 at The Oval in 1934. Next day, they added 147 in the 34 overs permitted by the weather, declaring at 558 for eight, their second-highest total against New Zealand. Ponting required only eight deliveries to convert his overnight 92 into his ninth Test century, the first in his native Tasmania. Like Langer, he hit 20 fours, but Ponting also hooked a six off the debutant, Shane Bond. Warne seemed to be heading for a maiden first-class hundred, handling the strike bowlers comfortably as he added 145 with Ponting, before being undone in the first over of Astle's part-time seam.
Bad light prevented New Zealand from starting their reply on the second evening. Just 35 overs were possible on the third day as they moved cautiously to 71 for two; only 51 were squeezed in on the fourth and 20 on the last. When rain interrupted again before lunch, a merciful end was called to proceedings. Having paid for inserting Australia twice, Fleming had helped to ensure his team's safety by stroking 71. He put on 97 with McMillan - a New Zealand fifth-wicket record against Australia - before shouldering arms to McGrath's first ball of the fifth morning. McMillan did the same to Gillespie, but just before midday the skies opened once more and New Zealand were off the hook. Over the last three days, the third umpire, John Smeaton, stood with Steve Bucknor, after Steve Davis injured his knee.
Man of the Match: R. T. Ponting.