2nd Test

Australia v New Zealand, 2011-12

Mark Geenty

At Hobart, December 9-12, 2011. New Zealand won by seven runs. Toss: Australia. Test debut: T. A. Boult.

New Zealand's bid for a series-squaring victory appeared to suffer a major setback when Daniel Vettori aggravated a tight hamstring in the warm-ups. There was no reserve spinner in the squad, so the 22-year-old left-arm seamer Trent Boult was handed a debut in what became a four-pronged pace attack. However, the absence of spin proved not to be an issue. In the two most recent Tests at Hobart, Australia had batted first and topped 500: this time, some of Tasmania's best emerald-green grass sprouted from the Bellerive pitch, after an inclement late spring. Clarke won the toss and - a rarity for an Australian captain at home - decided to bowl first.

Both first innings were completed inside a total of 100 overs, with New Zealand claiming a narrow lead after a helter-skelter first four sessions. Batting was almost a health hazard, and Pattinson and Siddle relished the conditions on a cloudy first morning. Siddle bowled better, but his young new-ball partner got the rewards, taking five for 51 to add to his Brisbane haul. The ball seamed and swung, edges were found, stumps rattled, and bruised batsmen traded baffled glances. Again, Brownlie showed patience, and clattered the bad deliveries to the fence. Arriving at 56 for four - and with no Vettori to offer support this time - he shared useful stands of 45 with Bracewell and 41 with Southee, and hit ten fours before finally falling to Pattinson. Martin obliged next ball - his 32nd duck in his 64th Test - and New Zealand were out for 150 for the second innings in a row.

Improbably, that proved enough for a lead as Australia struggled too, and it was left to Siddle to top-score with 36 from No. 8. Martin, swinging the ball prodigiously, had removed the left-handers Hughes, Warner and Khawaja to make it 35 for four, while Ponting, rather bizarrely, walked before the decision was given after being struck in front by Southee. Hussey was caught behind, a distinguished maiden Test wicket for Boult who, like Martin and Bracewell, finished with three wickets as Australia limped to 136.

By stumps on the second day, New Zealand looked in control at 139 for three, a lead of 153 with power to add. Taylor had reined in his natural game and braved the Australian quicks; he continued his defiance next morning, surviving 221 minutes in all for 56. But proving adept at docking the tail; Pattinson finished with eight in the match. Australia had seven sessions to score 241, and the seesaw swung their way again as they cruised to 72 without loss from 19 overs before the close.

On the fourth day, the pitch still offered variable bounce, and there was also a breeze to aid out-swing. Hughes's miserable series ended in the second over, caught for the fourth time running by the same fielder (Guptill) off the same bowler (Martin), a unique occurrence in Tests. In the ABC Radio commentary box, the former Test leg-spinner Kerry O'Keeffe observed that "if Hughes is shaving tomorrow and gets a nick, Guptill will appear from the medicine cabinet with a band-aid". Still, Australia had moved to 122 for one - needing only 119 more - before Boult had Khawaja held by Taylor, one of six slip catches during the day. After New Zealand's woeful display at Brisbane, their coach John Wright had staged several lengthy slip-catching sessions: in Hobart, his charges didn't shell one.

Suddenly, New Zealand seized control; Australia lost eight wickets for 77, seemingly in the blink of an eye. Bracewell removed Ponting, Clarke and Hussey, all at 159, the last two with successive balls: Ponting spooned a catch to cover, Clarke edged an attempted drive, Hussey was trapped in front, first ball. Umpire Asad Rauf had initially ruled Hussey not out, but Taylor challenged, and the replay suggested the ball would have flattened leg stump. The durable Bracewell needed a foil, and Southee provided it. Also swinging the old ball away, he had Haddin and Siddle caught in the cordon in the space of four deliveries. When Bracewell shattered Starc's stumps, second ball, it looked all over at 199 for nine.

But the drama had hardly begun. Warner celebrated his first Test century, off 145 balls, with a leap and punch of the air. He and last man Lyon needed to score 42, and Warner had faith. He didn't farm the strike, and Lyon got bat on ball. Taylor and his team tensed up. New Zealand were denied by the DRS twice in eight balls: first they were celebrating victory after Nigel Llong gave Lyon out lbw to Southee, but the ball-tracker thought otherwise; then Rauf gave Lyon not out to Bracewell, but when New Zealand called for a review, technology had the ball sliding down leg.

The target dwindled to single figures, and the small crowd found their voice. Taylor set the field back to Warner, and had a final charge at Lyon. In his 16th over of the day, Bracewell summoned one last effort and seamed one back through the gate to knock back middle stump. Lyon, who had survived for 43 minutes and 27 balls, was desolate, and dropped to his haunches. The New Zealanders could finally rejoice in victory. It was their first over Australia since Wellington in March 1993, but their first in Australia since Perth in December 1985. Warner, who offered a consoling arm to his partner, had carried his bat for 123 in 317 minutes - enough, controversially, to win him the match award ahead of Bracewell after a vote by the Australian public via text message. Following an outcry in New Zealand, the system was immediately scrapped. For Australia - spectators and players - it had been a bad couple of days.

Man of the Match: D. A. Warner. Man of the Series: J. L. Pattinson.

© John Wisden & Co.