Mascarenhas on Adam Voges: “It’s pretty amazing; he’s in a rich vein of form and he’s just not getting out at the moment.” © Getty Images
“Tough” was the word used most by New Zealand bowling coach Dimitri Mascarenhas after a day of toil in the field.
It described the batting-friendly pitch, the task facing New Zealand’s bowlers, the incorrect no-ball call that gave Adam Voges a second life, the chances of getting through the tail and essentially summed up the entire day for Brendon McCullum’s men at the Basin Reserve.
That Voges should never have walked out on the morning of day two is indisputable. The 169 runs he has added since Doug Bracewell sent the ball clattering into his stumps forms a significant chunk of Australia’s 280-run lead and made the umpiring error “a tough one to take”. Mascarenhas admitted it may have sapped the New Zealand players overnight.
“I’m pretty sure it did overnight” Mascarenhas said. “That was yesterday’s news, and today we just had to get on with it and knock him over again.
“Everything was said yesterday about that. It’s one of those things, a tough one to take but we’ve just got to get on with it and try and get him out again.”
But on a pitch that had already eased on the opening day, and against a batsman in rare form, averaging more than 100 and breaking the record for most runs without getting out, it was a task that proved beyond New Zealand’s tiring attack.
For a good portion of the day there was little respite for the bowlers when Voges was at the non-striker’s end, with Usman Khawaja continuing the run that has seen him vying with Voges for the unofficial title of Australia’s most in-form batsman of the season.
There may be a glimmer of hope for New Zealand in the fact that the last time Voges’ wicket did fall was against them in the day-night Test in Adelaide, when the ball moved considerably throughout the three days.
But on the flatter Australian pitches throughout the summer Voges proved to be a stubborn presence at the crease and, with Australia’s capable tail around him, he could take the game out of New Zealand’s reach on the third day.
“It’s pretty amazing; he’s in a rich vein of form and he’s just not getting out at the moment,” said Mascarenhas. “We’re going to have to find a way.
“The wicket has flattened out a lot but we toiled pretty hard and didn’t get a lot of movement all day. It was a really tough day but I thought the boys stuck at it well. With a bit more luck we could have got a couple more wickets.
“It’s tough, we’ve just got to keep doing what we are doing, put the balls in the right areas and set some attacking fields and hopefully force an edge or something like that, but we’re playing against some pretty world-class players in serious form, which makes it even harder.
“It’s changed pretty quickly. I thought even after the first session yesterday it started to flatten out and brown off in the sun a fair bit. Even towards the end of yesterday it seemed pretty flat. Our bowlers were fresh and we got a couple of early wickets but once those guys got in they didn’t really look like they were going to get out unless they made a mistake. Obviously there wasn’t a lot of movement.”
The Basin Reserve has witnessed some great escapes from New Zealand in the past and they may find encouragement in previous second-innings batting heroics. On the occasion of his 100th Test, memories of McCullum’s 302 against India in 2014 linger around the ground giving hope to those clutching face masks in his likeness while desperately hoping they are not, instead, clutching at straws.
In the fifth over with the new ball, Trent Boult provided the brightest hope for New Zealand, trapping Khawaja lbw and then taking a superb catch off his own bowling to dismiss Mitchell Marsh for a duck. New Zealand are also aware that any chance of saving this Test must start with their bowlers’ use of the new ball and their batsmen’s ability to negotiate it.
“We can see how flat the wicket has become,” said Mascarenhas. “We’re not getting a lot of movement out of it so hopefully that’ll be the same for the Aussie boys when they bowl on it.
“The new ball is crucial, we’ve just got to get through that because you can take wickets with it. The new ball has taken wickets throughout the game, two or three or whatever. We’ve just got to get through the new ball and just bat and push on and who knows?
“First and foremost, we’ve got four more wickets to take. As we saw in the last ten or so overs that Peter Siddle was out there, it’s still pretty tough to get the tailenders out. We’ve got a bit of a grind tomorrow morning and then we need to just go in there and bat and bat and bat.”
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo