Sat, 12 Mar 2005


Aussies stay even with NZ, Pakistan tested in India

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 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.

His sustained effort was rewarded shortly before lunch when he had Craig McMillan (13), playing away from his body and caught by Adam Gilchrist.

McGrath captured the last five New Zealand wickets in little more than an hour in the second session.

In Mohali, India, Inzamam-ul-Haq gave his all as captain but narrowly missed his 21st test hundred on Friday as Pakistan sought to fight its way back into the first cricket test after a top-order slump against India.

Trailing by 204 runs in the first innings, Inzamam and Youhana put on 139 runs for the fourth wicket as Pakistan pulled back from a perilous 10 for three at lunch. But Inzamam's departure just before the tea break consolidated India's position as Pakistan tried to force them to bat in a second innings.

At tea, Pakistan was 150 for four, still 54 runs behind India with the last pair of recognized batsmen -- Youhana (47 not out) and Asim Kamal (1 not out) at the crease.

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

Inzamam struck one six and 10 boundaries off 105 deliveries in 2-1/2 hours before he was adjudged out lbw off an Anil Kumble delivery. A dejected Inzamam, with 86 runs, slowly walked back to the pavilion.