New Zealand demolished by brutal Australia
Australia's fast bowlers breathed fire after Andrew Symonds flexed his muscle on the way to an eventful 54-run victory over New Zealand
Andrew Symonds put Australia on track for victory with a fierce 85
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Australia's fast bowlers breathed fire after Andrew Symonds flexed his muscle on the way to an eventful 54-run victory over New Zealand. The new-look outfit showed no signs of nerves and the result was sealed as soon as New Zealand slumped to 5 for 31 chasing 186.
Shaun Tait, who was back after elbow surgery, raced through two wickets in his first over and Brett Lee's extreme speed was responsible for a couple of breakthroughs in his opening spell. There was no respite for the New Zealanders, who were also hit by Mitchell Johnson and Ashley Noffke, and they were all out for 132. It was not the performance they needed ahead of the Chappell-Hadlee Series on Friday.
New Zealand's reply started horribly with Lou Vincent slipping first ball before Brendon McCullum was also caught by Adam Gilchrist off Lee. Australia did not let them recover from the early losses and Tait, who was as frightening as Lee, added to the pressure.
Tait struck with his opening delivery when Jamie How edged an attempted hook and Gilchrist jumped high, got a deflection and dived back to get the catch with his left hand. Two balls later Ross Taylor played on and the game was over the moment Mathew Sinclair gave Gilchrist his fourth catch. Jacob Oram tried to fight, bashing six sixes in his 66 off 31 balls, but his team-mates couldn't stay with him.
Johnson earned his second wicket by removing Scott Styris and the debutant Noffke quickly made a mark by bowling Daniel Vettori with his fourth delivery. Noffke (3 for 18) followed up by taking Kyle Mills and ended the match by capturing Jeetan Patel. Picking a five-pronged pace attack on a bouncy pitch was the right decision and they were helped by a competitive total.
Symonds provided the strength with a half-century after somehow managing to take his time early in the innings. After unleashing a flurry of boundaries he brought up his half-century - it came with a huge six over mid-on off Patel - from only 26 balls and continued to an unbeaten 85 off 46. However, he re-hurt his ankle in the field to give Australia an injury concern for Friday.
Once Michael Clarke departed for 33, Symonds steered the target setting and gained useful help from Adam Voges' 26. Symonds, who struck seven fours and three sixes, was particularly strong clubbing to the legside, but he also played some fine inside-out shots over cover to trouble New Zealand, whose only real chance came when Taylor dropped him on 76.
Vettori was outstanding, picking up Clarke and giving away 24 runs, and Mark Gillespie struck twice to start and finish the innings on a high. The match opened in a blur when Gilchrist, who was wearing a microphone linked to the commentary box, was left speechless when Patel leaped high to take a square drive behind point in the second over.
The day had already begun with excitement for Luke Pomersbach, who got a call from Australia's team manager as he parked his car at the WACA. Brad Hodge had hurt his back in the dressing room and Pomersbach's plan to watch the game from the stands was quickly changed as he was catapulted into the XI.
"I don't think I locked my car and my brother had to drop my stuff off," Pomersbach told Nine before he batted. "I'm still shaking, I can't believe it."
He settled himself with a couple of singles, launched a fierce six over midwicket and picked up 15 off seven before falling from the third-last ball. After the win was sealed Pomersbach, who was suspended by his state last month for a night on the town, had another reason to celebrate.
Peter English is the Australasian editor of Cricinfo