New Zealand have not given up on posting a total of close to 500 despite finishing the first day on a placid Adelaide Oval pitch on a slightly disappointing 6 for 262. It was an improvement on their sub-200 scores in the first Test at the Gabba, but on a surface offering the bowlers little help they were frustrated that several batsmen again contributed to their own demise.
Aaron Redmond top scored with a confident 83 but fell victim to his own aggression when he lofted Nathan Hauritz squarer than intended and was caught at deep midwicket. Jesse Ryder's rush of blood cost him when he pulled Hauritz straight to midwicket, Peter Fulton also chipped to Simon Katich in the infield off Andrew Symonds, while Jamie How gifted Mitchell Johnson an early wicket when he slashed at a wide one and edged behind.
Redmond said New Zealand had aimed to be no more than four down at stumps and he said his own dismissal was indicative of some poor judgment from the batsmen. "It probably wasn't the ideal ball to execute down on one leg and play that," Redmond said. "Through our innings we had three dismissals caught in front...soft dismissals. Our biggest thing tomorrow is we have to bat long into the day and place that 500 score."
Only once in the past five Tests at Adelaide Oval has the team batting first failed to register 500; West Indies in 2005-06 posted 405. Even matching that will be a daunting task for a lower order that at the Gabba folded like a nervous poker player. Their main hope is for Daniel Vettori and Brendon McCullum to build significantly on the 34-run partnership they started in the final session.
"The two players we've got at the crease are our most experienced players," Redmond said. "They've got hundreds under their belt. The way they batted in that last session they showed that patience factor as well. You bring that in to the next day tomorrow and play like that again and you will reach targets like that."
However, New Zealand will have to fight off a buoyant Australian attack that shared the wickets among all five men. Offspinner Hauritz picked up two while Andrew Symonds and each of the fast bowlers collected one. It was a persistent effort on a pitch which was nothing like the green-tinged one at the Gabba and Redmond said Australia made it difficult all day with their relentlessness.
"It obviously is a great batting surface," he said. "The Aussie boys came in and they actually hit the deck quite hard as well. It is tough. I would say it's a little bit more batter-friendly than the past pitches I've played at, but you've just got to play aggressively. When they bowl, they bowl aggressively. So it's not all plain sailing."
Australia should be boosted by the return of Hauritz, who sent down 16 overs before rolling his ankle in the outfield. He spent most of the final session off the ground but is confident of being back in the action on the second morning.