Australia 231 & 35 for 0 lead New Zealand 264 (Taylor 138, Johnson 4-59) by 2 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Ross Taylor raced to New Zealand's fastest Test century but the hosts failed to support their red-hot team-mate and the sides finished almost level after two days. New Zealand earned a slender 33-run advantage after Taylor's 138 off 104 balls took them towards 264, a first-innings total which could have been so much stronger.
Shane Watson, who survived a reviewed lbw appeal from Brent Arnel, drove well to be 28 while Simon Katich was 6 as Australia went to stumps at 35 for 0. Bad light ended play 24 overs early and the visitors will begin day three two runs ahead.
While Taylor exploded in a jaw-dropping display, Australia were able to pick up regular breakthroughs, often through Mitchell Johnson, even though they gave Taylor three lives. Taylor reached his century in 81 deliveries, beating the 82-ball effort of Daniel Vettori against Zimbabwe, and blasted four sixes and 19 fours. He wanted to show his side would not be intimidated by Australia and he wasn't, but not many of his team-mates shared the belief.
In the first session Taylor received help from the opener BJ Watling, who worked hard over his 46, but that was the second highest score as the rest were unable to contribute more than Tim Southee's late 22. When Taylor was around boundaries rained and his fireworks were more suited to a one-day or Twenty20 instead of a lazy Test Sunday in Hamilton.
Having been missed on 7, 53 and 92, he knew it was his day so he kept on swinging, majestically at times and wildly at others. A fierce cut through point took him to 99 and the century came with a slice over the slips cordon.
He mixed some memorable boundaries - his driving between mid-on and cover off the fast bowlers was delightful - with streaky shots, but the combination made it an exceptional performance. Following his third reprieve, when Watson missed a regulation edge at first slip, Taylor quickly brought up his century and things really got ugly for the visitors.
Nathan Hauritz, the offspinner, was pounded for 25 in an over as Taylor launched three sixes in a row over midwicket, the sightscreen and midwicket again. It would have been worse if Watson hadn't taken a catch on the boundary edge and thrown it back into the field athletically before he crossed the boundary, saving five runs. New Zealand hadn't passed Australia's total at that stage and were six down, but the Australian shoulders were slumping during the onslaught. By the end of the day their outlook was much brighter than the conditions.
The first miss came when Taylor edged Ryan Harris between Watson and Ricky Ponting, with neither man going for the ball. He followed up by driving Johnson for four through the offside twice in two balls in a brutal response to a costly fielding error.
Taylor continued to leap forward and pulled Watson to midwicket before bringing up his half-century with a six to midwicket. The milestone arrived in an astonishing 34 balls and he didn't slow much on the way to his fifth Test hundred.
Hauritz came on in the first session to goad Taylor, who swiped at his third ball, and Johnson missed a relatively simple chance above his head at mid-on. The second life led Taylor to add to Australia's misery by slashing three offside boundaries off Doug Bollinger's next over. Ponting was starting to scowl and chew his finger nails, but a strong second innings on the third day can eliminate his concerns.
Lumped with the tail, Taylor was responsible for scrapping as many runs as possible but the task eventually became too risky. His innings ended when he attempted to pull Bollinger and collected an under-edge that was taken by Brad Haddin. Originally given not out, his decision was referred to the third umpire and Hot Spot showed the fine nick. It was so fine Taylor didn't think he'd touched it and he shook his head as he departed.
Taylor walked out in the morning with New Zealand 30 for 2 after Mathew Sinclair (11) was bowled by Johnson's searing yorker. He put on 84 with Watling at more than a run a ball and there were 124 runs and three wickets in 26 overs during an eventful session. The pace continued with another 121 before the innings ended to signal the tea break.
Watling played a handful of memorable shots through the off side off the back foot, and was a useful partner for Taylor until he played-on to Bollinger. Martin Guptill (4) and Vettori (15) fell to Harris either side of lunch while Brendon McCullum (5) and Jeetan Patel (7) both edged Johnson to Ponting.
The tail delayed the hosts for a short time, with Southee hooking Johnson for six behind square before running out of partners. Johnson led the attack with 4 for 59 while Bollinger and Harris chipped in with three each. It was an innings to forget for Hauritz, who gave up 68 in 13 overs, but there was damage delivered by both sides on the second day.
Australia vs New Zealand
Australia tour of New Zealand
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo