Doug Bracewell has written himself into folklore by scripting a fairytale finish for the BLACKCAPS in the second test against Australia.
The 21-year-old seam bowling tyro stole the home side’s thunder with an inspired spell as New Zealand won the match by seven runs on the fourth afternoon at Bellerive Oval in Hobart to draw the two-match series 1-1.
He producing a searing spell of six for 26 to help dismiss Australia for 233 in their second innings, leaving opener David Warner’s marooned on a mighty, unbeaten 123.
Not only was it New Zealand’s narrowest runs winning margin in history, it was also just their third win in 28 tests on Australian soil and the first since 1985-86.
It was Bracewell who turned the match on its head when Australia were seemingly strolling towards their target of 241 as they approached the lunch break very comfortably placed at 159 for two.
An extended 2-1/2 morning session was drawing to a close with Australia sitting pretty when New Zealand captain Ross Taylor reintroduced Bracewell for his second spell on what was scheduled to be the penultimate day.
In just his third test Bracewell responded by removing the heart and soul of the Australian middle order as veteran Ricky Ponting, captain Michael Clarke and left-hander Michael Hussey departed in the space of eight Bracewell deliveries for no runs.
Ponting, on 16, spooned a catch to Tim Southee at extra cover when he stepped back to force the ball through the offside and got himself into an awkward position as he mishit the ball off the bottom of the bat.
While that was down to a batsman’s error Bracewell was the cause of the next two dismissals as he produced a fullish outswinger which Clarke edged to first slip where Taylor first juggled the ball and clung on to it at his second attempt.
Hussey, so often his team’s saviour, was then deceived first ball by a full inswinger which struck him on the pads. Pakistani umpire Asad Rauf turned down a confident leg before wicket shout, prompting Taylor to ask for a referral which showed the Australia was hit in front.
From a position of unquestioned strength the Australians went to lunch at 179 for five, with much riding on Warner, who would have nibbled nervously as he took a break just five runs shy of three figures.
He duly ticked that off, working Bracewell off his pads for two but he then had to stand and watch while the New Zealanders put the squeeze on at the other end.
The Australians did not respond well to the building pressure, with wicketkeeper Brad Haddin nicking fast bowler Southee to Taylor at slip for 16 and Peter Siddle prodding the same bowler to Jesse Ryder at third slip three balls later.
Australia lost another cluster of wickets, with four tumbling for seven runs as Bracewell maintained his good work, having James Pattinson caught in the slips cordon and bowling Mitchell Starc two balls later.
By this stage Australia had slumped to 199 for nine and the end looked nigh although no one told that to Warner, who nursed tailender Nathan Lyon with constant advice as they manipulated the field settings of Taylor.
Twice the New Zealanders thought they had it and twice they were denied by the umpiring review system, with English umpire Nigel Llong’s decision to uphold a leg before wicket shout against Lyon being over ruled.
But the New Zealanders held their nerve, particularly Bracewell who fittingly had the last say when he got a ball to nip back between Lyon’s bat and pad.
There was no overturning that dismissal and Bracewell, who finished with career best figures of six for 40 off 16.4 overs, was instantly engulfed by his teammates.
Earlier, Australia resumed this morning on 72 without loss with Warner on 47 and Phil Hughes 20.
Hughes had not added to his total when he fell to the Chris Martin-Martin Guptill combination for the fourth time in as many innings, sparring at a Martin delivery outside his off stump and presenting Guptill with a catch low to his left at second slip.
Uswan Khawaja made a start and reached 23 before he chased a widish ball from left-arm swing bowler Trent Boult and succeeded only in presenting Taylor with a catch at first slip.
Australia began losing their way thanks to Bracewell’s intervention before lunch and he was still causing them grief later on as New Zealand sealed a stunning result, particularly given how they were totally outplayed in a heavy first test loss in Brisbane.
Day 3: BLACKCAPS up against it in Hobart
Australia are within striking distance of wrapping up the two-test series 2-0 after the BLACKCAPS relinquished the initiative in Hobart today.
The hosts went to stumps on a truncated third day at 72 without loss chasing 241 for victory at Bellerive Oval.
On a pitch offering little encouragement to the bowlers compared to the opening two days when the ball jagged about extravagantly, Australia’s batsmen had few anxious moments after the tourists had been dismissed for 226 in their second innings on the stroke of lunch.
The left-handed opening combination of David Warner and Phil Hughes clicked for the first time in the series as they went to tea on 47 and 20 respectively, with the New Zealand attack unable to repeat their first innings heroics when the hosts were rolled for 136.
Warner, in particular, took an abrasive approach as he collared eight fours in 50 balls which allowed Hughes, so fidgety in this series to date, to ease into his work on a surface playing few tricks.
But their progress was put on hold after tea when rain fell at the match venue, eventually leading to officials ending the day early.
The BLACKCAPS, now required to take 10 wickets as Australia look to tick off the 169 runs they need, will hope for more overnight rain and a heavy cloud cover tomorrow morning to help juice up the pitch.
They will certainly feel they short changed themselves in the morning session today when they lost their last seven wickets for 87 runs.
Resuming at 139 for three and leading overall by 153, the tourists would have targeted a score of 270-plus to place the Australians under pressure.
They fell well short of that, with their best plans suffering an immediately setback when Kane Williamson fell to just the third ball of the morning from fast bowler Peter Siddle.
Williamson had neither time to get his eye in nor add to his overnight 34 when he went a touch hard at a ball outside his off stump to provide an edge to Ricky Ponting at second slip.
Captain Ross Taylor and Dean Brownlie reined themselves in as they battled to combat a demanding line found by the Australian bowlers, of whom Siddle, in particular, asked constant questions of their technique on and around off stump.
Taylor, dropped on 14 yesterday before sleeping on his overnight 42, offered another chance on 48 when fast bowler James Pattinson failed to hold on to a firmly struck return catch.
Taylor appreciated the reprieve and guided the next ball through the covers for two to reach his 15th test half century.
But he didn’t stick around too much longer as Pattinson had the last say when he angled a ball into the right-hander, who nicked out to first slip for 56 after a doggedly tempered innings lasting 221 minutes.
Brownlie soon joined him in the pavilion for 21. He promised much in hitting four boundaries but largely adopted a defensive pose and was unsettled when struck on the left wrist, his top hand, by left-armer Mitchell Starc.
He departed soon after when a short ball from Pattinson didn’t rise as expected and clipped his glove en route to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.
The tail offered little resistance save for a bold 21 off 13 balls from No 10 Trent Boult before he holed out searching for a fifth boundary.
Offspinner Nathan Lyon took the last three wickets to fall to end with three for 25 while Pattinson had three for 54 and Siddle three for 66.
Australia won the first test in Brisbane by nine wickets.
Day 2: BLACKCAPS bowlers do the business
The BLACKCAPS second test against Australia in Hobart is delicately poised after ball continued to dominate bat today.
The second day ended with the New Zealanders on 139 for three in their second innings, holding an overall lead of 153 runs with time a non-issue after the match continued to progress at a rapid rate.
In a low scoring affair they had both their nose and neck in front heading into a day of promise tomorrow but pitch occupation has proven to be a hazardous affair to date.
On a sporting Bellerive Oval pitch 23 wickets have so far tumbled for only 425 runs and if overhead conditions again provide cloud cover tomorrow morning there is every chance this match won’t see lunch on the fourth day on a surface already producing variable bounce.
In New Zealand’s favour is the fact they resume tomorrow with captain Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson well set at the crease after these two produced the test’s best partnership, an unbroken stand of 66 for the fourth wicket.
Taylor, dropped on 15 and later hurt by a blow to the groin, tempered his instinct to attack in compiling a watchful 42, while Williamson was all class as he reached 34 by the close in an innings studded by a number of boundaries, two of them off successive balls from fast bowler Peter Siddle, the first a back foot drive through the covers then a firm clip through mid wicket.
The New Zealand seam bowling attack did themselves proud earlier as Australia were dismissed for 136, their third lowest total in trans-Tasman tests, in conditions that again suited the fielding side.
The four-pronged seam line-up operated smoothly as a unit after Australia resumed on 12 for one responding to the tourists’ opening effort of 150.
Chris Martin celebrated his 37th birthday with a performance worthy a much younger man to account for the top order before debutant Trent Boult and Doug Bracewell, in only his third test, took care of the middle and lower order in an impressive bowling performance.
These three finished with three wickets apiece as they exposed the fragility of the Australian batting order who replicated the New Zealanders’ first innings by failing to cope in trying conditions as the ball continue to swing and seam about off a heavily grass-tinged surface.
Martin removed opener Phil Hughes late on the first day and again fronted to unsettle the hosts as he enticed edges behind off David Warner for 15 and Usman Khawaja for seven as the Australians looked nervy as the ball jagged about.
And with Tim Southee sending Ricky Ponting packing for five Australia never recovered from a precarious 35 for four.
Ponting misjudged Southee’s delivery and was subsequently trapped so plumb in front that he walked well before English umpire Nigel Llong raised his finger to uphold the leg before wicket appeal.
Captain Michael Clarke stroked the first boundary 83 minutes into the day with an off drive against Southee while Martin was spelled at the other ending having taken three for 28 from 11 overs.
New Zealand maintained their disciplines nicely, asking serious questions by hitting the right channels as Australia slumped further to 75 for seven when Clarke, on 22, didn’t offer a stroke and was aghast to find himself bowled by Bracewell.
At this stage there were doubts whether Australia would post three figures but they did thanks to fast bowlers Siddle and James Pattinson, who put on a stand of 56 for the eighth wicket as the sun came out and the ball softened.
Siddle made 36 and Pattinson 17 before the end came quickly as the last three wickets fell for five runs well into the second session.
Left-armer Boult, 22, marked his debut with a highly encouraging effort, taking three for 29 off 13 overs, while Bracewell, the fourth man used, had a happy time in taking three for 20 off 10 and Martin collected three for 46 off 16.
Day: Brownlie stands tall on tough day for BLACKCAPS
The BLACKCAPS must have guessed it wasn’t to be their day when they lost the services of key allrounder Daniel Vettori before the toss in the second cricket test against Australia in Hobart today.
Vettori aggravated a hamstring strain during the warm-ups, ruling him out of the match at Bellerive Oval and handing a test debut to left-arm swing bowler Trent Boult.
The veteran’s stoic batting was missed, too, once Australian captain Michael Clarke won the toss and had no hesitation in electing to bowl first under overcast skies and on one of the greenest pitches seen in Australia for generations.
The conditions were conducive to swing and seam and aside from Dean Brownlie the New Zealanders battled as they were dismissed in their first innings for 150 on the stroke of tea.
There was still some spice in the pitch in the last session, which helped Chris Martin remove Australian opener Phil Hughes for four when he angled a ball across the left-hander, found the edge and Martin Guptill snared the chance at second slip.
Forecast rain then arrived, cutting short Australia’s reply at 12 for one and leaving the tourists licking their lips at the prospect of utilising helpful conditions when the match resumes tomorrow morning.
Brownlie’s two-hour 56 shone like a beacon amid a New Zealand batting card which featured no other score of 20 or above and he was largely responsible for earning his side some respectability after they had collapsed to 60 for six before lunch.
With the conditions at times offering exaggerated movement off the surface, the Australian attack spearheaded by their latest find, James Pattinson, revelled in their work as the tourists’ top order was made to work hard.
Opener Martin Guptill departed in just the second over, when Australia’s most experienced fast bowler Peter Siddle found the edge of the bat as Guptill closed the bat face fractionally to a fullish delivery which held its line.
A rejigged New Zealand batting order featured Jesse Ryder at first drop but the change did not bear the desired fruit because he came and went without scoring, becoming the first of Pattinson’s five wickets when he was struck on the pads.
English umpire Nigel Llong turned down the appeal for leg before wicket, but the Australians asked for a television review and the left-hander was then sent on his way.
While Brendon McCullum looked to dig in, he then lost his skipper Ross Taylor, who shouldered arms to Siddle only to be hit in front when the ball jagged back a good 25cm from outside off.
Kane Williamson looked proficient in reaching 19 before he departed to leave his side 56 for four when an attempted leg glance off Pattinson instead offered a thin edge to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.
McCullum was the next to go after producing only one or two authoritative shots in his 16 before Pattinson fronted with the ball of the day, a fullish offering which swung very late to catch the edge of the bat.
McCullum could not hide his disappointment after working extra hard over 98 minutes to curb his natural instincts to attack.
Wicketkeeper Reece Young managed four balls before dragging a ball from Pattinson on to his stumps and Brownlie then took over, nursing the lower order past 100 as Doug Bracewell lent a hand by sticking around for 53 minutes for his 12 and Tim Southee survived 46 minutes for his 18.
In just his third test, Brownlie reached 50 for the third time, again exhibiting a solid technique and temperament as he struck 10 boundaries all around the wicket and making the Australians bowl to him rather than going searching for the ball.
But the end came quickly once he chopped Pattinson on to his stumps, tailender Martin recording test duck No 32 when the fast bowler pierced his defences on the first attempt.
Man of the match in the first test, Pattinson continued to enjoy himself to take five for 51 off 13.5 overs, and he was well supported by his fast bowling colleagues because Siddle claimed three for 42 off 13 and left-armer Mitchell Starc took two for 30 off 11.