Sat, 12 Mar 2005


Aussies even with NZ, Pakistan tested

Agencies, Christchurch, New Zealand

Glenn McGrath claimed six wickets on Friday to leave the first cricket test between New Zealand and Australia delicately balanced at the end of the second day.

McGrath completed his 26th five-wicket test haul, taking his five of his six wickets in nine overs to spark the end of New Zealand's first innings for 433.

New Zealand had a modest advantage when it reduced Australia to 75-2 in its first innings, removing openers Justin Langer (23) and Matthew Hayden (35).

Captain Ricky Ponting and Damien Martyn added 65 for the third wicket to strengthen Australia's hand, but Martyn (32) was out just before stumps to readjust the balance of the match.

Ponting was unbeaten on 41 and nightwatchman Jason Gillespie was yet to score when Australia left the pitch on 141-3 at stumps.

"It's a pretty good wicket to bat on," said New Zealand's Nathan Astle, who scored 74 runs.

"We just toiled away and to pick up three -- one more would have been even better -- it's fair to say we're happy with the day."

New Zealand started the second day in a strong position at 265-3 and were better-placed when Hamish Marshall and Astle added exactly 60 runs at even pace in the day's first hour.

Legspinner Shane Warne triggered New Zealand's decline when he turned a flighted delivery to bowl Marshall for 146 and leave New Zealand at 330-4.

McGrath had bowled his first 32 overs at a cost of 75 runs without taking a wicket, though he saw catches from Stephen Fleming and Craig Cumming dropped on the first day.

In Mohali, India, Laxmipathy Balaji and Anil Kumble combined to take five wickets on Friday and dispose of Pakistan's top- order in the second innings as India sensed victory in the first test.

Trailing by 204 runs in the first innings, Pakistan was 257 for six in its second knock at the close of fourth day's play, giving it a lead of just 53 with the last recognized pair of batsmen at the crease.

Pakistan was bowled out for 312 in its first innings, while India replied with 516.

Seam bowler Balaji (3-67) and leg-spinner Kumble (2-76) bowled India into a winning position as Pakistan faltered despite a defiant 139-run fourth-wicket partnership between skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq (86) and Yousuf Youhana (68).

Pakistan made a jittery start to its second innings, slumping to 10 for three before Inzamam and Youhana pulled it back into the contest. The departure of these two batsmen, and first- innings' top-scorer Asim Kamal (48), left Pakistan facing defeat.

At stumps, Razzaq was batting on 22 and Kamran Akmal was on nine.

Inzamam and Youhana had shared their eighth century stand for the fourth wicket -- overtaking the seven hundred-run partnerships for the fourth wicket between Australia's Waugh brothers, Steve and Mark.