Australia poised for victory in Hamilton Test

HAMILTON: With half the side back in the pavilion for 185, chasing down a mammoth 479 appears an improbably dream for the Black Caps. Saving the Test on day five will a Herculean task for the unbeaten batsmen Brendon McCullum (19) and Martin Guptill (29) as they will have to bat for another 94 overs.

Australian captain Ricky Ponting declared at lunch when the scorecard read 511 for 8, leaving the hosts to get to the target in 153 overs.

It was once again the familiar batting collapse for the Kiwis, where most of the batsmen got starts but couldn’t go beyond 30. Left-arm speedster Mitchell Johnson was the wrecker-in-chief, taking 3 for 39 in 11 overs after Doug Bollinger and Ryan Harris went wicketless.

He had BJ Watling caught behind for 24 and then removed the in-form Ross Taylor (22), who again edged it to keeper Brad Haddin. For his third wicket, Johnson breached the defense of Tim McIntosh (19) with sheer pace and rearranged the timber. Incidentally, with this wicket, he became the fastest left-armer to reach 150 wickets, in 34 tests.

Mathew Sinclair batted with lot of composure for his 29 but was foxed by left-arm tweaker Michael Clarke who trapped him lbw with a straight delivery.

Captain Daniel Vettori played a breezy cameo of 22 and perished while going for an ambitious sweep off spinner Nathan Hauritz, who had him trapped in front.

Resuming on the score of 333 for 4, Marcus North and Clarke tormented the Kiwi bowlers and put together 142 for the fifth wicket. The stand took the game away from the home team.

Brent Arnel broke the partnership when he trapped Clarke lbw for 63. The seamer finished with the figure of 3 for 77.

The two spinners Daniel Vettori and Jeetan Patel were made to look ordinary. Vettori went wicketless for his first 40 overs and then broke the barren phase with two wickets in successive balls. First, he had North caught behind for 90 and then had Johnson caught at long-on. It was Hauritz who denied the Kiwi captain the hat-trick.

Vettori finished with 140 for 2 off 48 overs, while Patel ended with 1 for 141 off 39 overs.