BLACKCAPS lose test by 149 runs

It was a familiar story for the BLACKCAPS -- an early period of dominance then missed opportunities as Australia completed a 149-run victory in the first test in Brisbane today.

Resuming on 143 for six in pursuit of an unlikely 327 to win, the BLACKCAPS’ resistance lasted just 10.3 overs on the fourth day at the Gabba.

Left-arm paceman Mitchell Johnson finished the job for the hosts with the key wickets of topscorer Ross Taylor for 75 and captain Daniel Vettori for 10, before bowling Chris Martin for one to dismiss the tourists for 177.

Two huge sixes from youngster Tim Southee off paceman Stuart Clark only prolonged the inevitable.

Johnson's five for 39 in the second innings gave him a nine-wicket haul and won him man of the match ahead of second innings centurymaker Simon Katich.

The BLACKCAPS were up against it from the start of their chase, which would have been a record at the Gabba.

The highest test run chase at the ground was Australia's 236 for seven against the West Indies in the 1951-52 season.

It was the BLACKCAPS’ fifth loss from their last six tests against Australia, after they won the toss on a damp day one pitch and dismissed the hosts for 214 thanks to Southee's four for 63.

Vettori said Michael Clarke's first innings 98 and Katich's 131 not out in the second innings -- after he was dropped on 70 and 86 -- were big factors in the result.

"We started pretty well with the ball and got Australia into the position we wanted, but if we reflect back, Clarke in the first innings and Katich in the second, two very impressive innings and probably the difference between the two sides," he told Channel Nine.

Still, the BLACKCAPS’ bowlers had Australia's strong batting lineup in strife in both innings and it was the batting that again caused the headaches.

Taylor was the shining light, topscoring in both innings with 40 and 75 but unable to go on to a big score as wickets tumbled around him.

The BLACKCAPS’ top order suffered back-to-back collapses, and totals of 156 and 177 weren't enough to challenge the world's top-ranked test side in their home conditions.

"It's been a trend for us for a long time now, not getting one or two guys to stand up and score that hundred or even that 70 or 80 continuously," Vettori said .

"It's something we're continually trying to work on, we've got a youngish batting lineup but we're still trying to get results out of them."

Vettori challenged his side to keep their belief in the second and final test beginning on Friday in Adelaide, on a pitch renowned as a batsman's paradise.

Australian captain Ricky Ponting admitted his side weren't at their best after a tough 0-2 series loss in India but praised their character.

"To not play our best cricket this week and still win convincingly is a good way to bounce back after a tough tour of India," he said.

"We've got some room for improvement and hopefully that comes next week in Adelaide."

NZPA

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