Thursday, December 1, 2011

Khawaja and Ponting steady Australia

Australia v New Zealand, 1st Test, Brisbane, 2nd day

Khawaja and Ponting steady Australia

The Report by Brydon Coverdale
December 2, 201
Usman Khawaja and Ricky Ponting steered Australia into a steady position after both the openers fell cheaply in reply to New Zealand's 295. At tea on the second day, Australia were 2 for 91, with Khawaja on 38 and Ponting on 34, and the pair had given Australia a solid platform during a relatively quiet session after six wickets fell in the morning.
New Zealand had gone to lunch full of confidence after the debutant David Warner fell for 3 in the second of two overs Australia's batsmen had to face before the break. Tim Southee cramped Warner with a well-directed shorter delivery that the batsman couldn't evade, and the ball brushed the gloves on the way through to the wicketkeeper.
Dean Brownlie
Soon after the resumption, the other opener Phillip Hughes was squared up by Chris Martin and edged to gully, where Martin Guptill took a fine catch low in front of him, and Australia were in trouble at 2 for 25. But Ponting and Khawaja played with level heads, apart from a near run-out when Ponting was sent back by his partner and would have been short with a direct hit.
Ponting's runs came largely through boundaries, including a pull off Doug Bracewell and a lovely drive through the off side against Tim Southee. Khawaja was also keen to avoid risks and he waited for the bad balls, putting them away when they arrived, and by the tea break their partnership had reached 66 runs.
The Australians needed a solid stand to match that of Daniel Vettori and Dean Brownlie, who added 158 and frustrated Australia for a large part of the second morning. Vettori missed out on his seventh Test century, run out for 96, and Brownlie finished unbeaten on 77, their partnership the key in a New Zealand innings that had stuttered in the first session on Thursday.
Nathan Lyon picked up four wickets and was the most consistently threatening of Australia's bowlers, spinning the ball sharply and using flight and guile in his first match of any kind at the Gabba. He wrapped things up shortly before the scheduled lunch break when he turned a ball through the gate and bowled Martin for 1.
The New Zealanders had added 119 on the second day for the loss of their final five wickets, Vettori and Brownlie frustrating the Australians for much of the morning. Vettori pulled well against the fast men and brought up his half-century from his 70th delivery, and seemed set for his first hundred against the Australians.
However, on 96 he tried to hurry through for a quick single to mid-off and despite a full-stretch dive was caught short by the direct hit from Michael Hussey. It was a fine piece of fielding after the Australians had given Vettori a life on 71, when he skied a slog-sweep that should have been taken by Mitchell Starc running round from mid-on.
Australia began to chip away at the lower order after Vettori ran himself out. The wicketkeeper Reece Young was caught at slip for 2 off Peter Siddle, Bracewell edged a Lyon topsinner to slip for a duck, and Tim Southee, having slogged Starc over the fence, was caught at long-on for 17 trying for another six off Lyon.
Brownlie made Australia pay for the chances he gave on the first day and brought up his fifty from his 121st ball with an impressive on-drive for four off James Pattinson. He tried to lift his tempo once he began running out of partners, but had to settle for a solid half-century, his second in two Tests, instead of his maiden hundred.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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