Gallant BLACKCAPS so close

The BLACKCAPS made a courageous attempt to overcome Australia’s massive target but a record-breaking knock from Andrew Symonds decided the destination of the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy.

Kyle Mills’ diving attempt to gain the vital runs in the final overs was millimetres short and the Australians claimed a narrow two-run win with a ball to spare at Wellington's Westpac Stadium.

Brendan McCullum’s 48 pushed the side close to a historic victory, but he was expertly run out by Michael Clarke. Earlier, Lou Vincent hit 71 despite injury, Chris Cairns 60 and Jacob Oram 41 as the BLACKCAPS pushed Australia all the way. Cairns and Oram formed an 81-run sixth-wicket stand before the veteran was caught by Brett Lee from debutant Michael Lewis.

But Symonds' virtuoso 156 from 127 balls lifted the visitors. From 101-for-four, his 220-run fifth-wicket stand with Clarke (82 not out) decided matters. The world champions have claimed the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy although the BLACKCAPS can take pride in a determined performance. Once again, the Australians called on an individual to conjure up a match-winning performance. In Wellington, it was Symonds; in Auckland, Lee delivered.

Australia won the toss, but once more, the BLACKCAPS struck early as Adam Gilchrist again sent back to the pavilion when Cairns, at cover, caught him from Mills’ delivery. Ricky Ponting came in early once more but was not allowed to make the decisive contribution he had at Eden Park, making 28 before nudging another Mills delivery to Brendon McCullum.

Hamish Marshall showed his prowess in the field for the next two dismissals. Firstly, a fine catch at point dispatched Brad Hodge for a duck before Simon Katich was run out by Marshall's pin-point throw.

But Symonds and Clarke moved up several gears. After a patient first 50 from 70 deliveries, Symonds’ second 50 came from 39 and the third from just 16. Eight sixes and 12 fours reflected the quality of his knock, before he was again dismissed by Daniel Vettori.

BLACKCAPS opener Vincent came charging out of the blocks and was well supported by Nathan Astle as he took the game to Australia. He struck nine fours and two sixes to build his innings in just 49 deliveries, even fighting the pain barrier when picking up an injury while running between the wickets. However, he was eventually dismissed by Lewis, claiming his first international wicket.

Lewis doubled up when Stuart Clark caught Astle for 21 and Clark then took Craig McMillan for nine, Michael Hussey taking the catch.

Spinner Brad Hogg then took two successive wickets, trapping Hamish Marshall lbw for 10 before taking Scott Styris caught and bowled for 25.

Cairns and Oram moved the run-rate on, but the chase for runs caused Cairns to hit over the top, with Lee taking the catch. Oram also tried to force the issue, but was caught by Clark at third man from Lee. James Marshall was run out for six as he attempted to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

But after a dramatic and historic run chase, the BLACKCAPS were brave but beaten. However, they have a third and final chance to claim the victory they deserve in Christchurch.

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