The second test just came to a thrilling finish with Australia being bowled out for 233 and losing by seven runs. Doug Bracewell, in his third test, took a match winning 6-40 in the second innings whilst David Warner, in his second test, carried his bat for 123.
It’s a great victory for New Zealand. It’s the first test they have won in Australia for quite some time (25 years?) and they did so after playing very poorly at Brisbane, losing Vettori before the match started and then being bowled out for 150 in their first innings. Australia will have some questions to ask themselves however. They collapsed badly in the first innings to be bowled out for 136 and then lost six wickets for 40 runs in the second. That last one took them from a very strong position to one in which they did well to make the match as close as it was. Some of it was down to inspired bowling, Bracewell in the second innings most notably, but there was a lot of poor batting as well. The shots Haddin played were inexcusable, especially in the second innings. He chased a ball so wide it would not have hit a second set of stumps, despite having edged the ball before between third slip and gully. Warner also displayed some odd decision making late in the run chase. He took a single off the first ball of the 56th over and exposed Pattinson to the bowling of Bracewell. Two ball later Pattinson edged to slip and two balls after that Mitchell Starc was bowled. He continued in the same vein however. Both times there were LBW decisions reviewed against Lyon he was only on strike because Warner had taken a single off the previous delivery. When Lyon was bowled to end the match Warner had taken a single off the first ball. I don’t think that Warner is culpable for Australia’s defeat of course, but a more experienced player might have done a better job of hogging the strike.
Still, Warner ought to be happy with his performance. He scored an unbeaten 123 out of his side’s 233 all out and technically won Man of the Match (though only because Channel Nine let the viewers vote on the award; Bracewell was far more deserving). He is almost guaranteed a spot in the starting XI at the MCG, which can not be said of many of the Australian batsmen. Phil Hughes played very well last night, but lasted only five balls this morning before departing in the familiar manner of c Guptill b Martin. His 20 was actually the third largest score of the innings (fourth largest if you include the 21 extras), but I can’t see it being enough to save his place in the side. At the same time none of Khawaja, Ponting or Hussey did much to improve their chances of selection. Marsh and Watson are likely to return to the side for Boxing Day and whilst both are versatile enough to either open or bat in the middle order, most likely one opener and one middle order batsman will be dropped. With Hughes the only candidate amongst the openers it only leaves a question in the middle order. In many ways Khawaja is the easiest to drop as he is not very well established in the side. He only returned due to the injury to Marsh, so it is logical for him to make way. That would be the easy route for the selectors, however. Hussey looks like he is terminally out of form and if only one middle order batsman goes it ought to be him. That all is assuming that Ponting does not decide to retire, however. If Ponting does retire than Hussey could keep his place, but I would rather see Marsh and Watson both bat in the middle order and Ed Cowan open with Warner. I would actually quite like to see that even if Ponting does not retire. I think it would be a good positive move by the selectors. They’ll be under pressure to do something, certainly. India may have struggled badly in England, but they are a better side than New Zealand and Australia will need to improve to feel confident of victory.