Innings New Zealand 370 (McCullum 145, Anderson 72, Watling 58, Lyon 3-61) v Australia
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Save tonight: Brendon McCullum played a thrilling innings in his last Test © Getty Images
He’s not going quietly. Brendon McCullum blasted into history with the fastest Test hundred of them all to leave Australia speechless and grant New Zealand a first-innings foothold on an unforgettable afternoon at Hagley Oval.
Arriving at the crease with the hosts a floundering 32 for 3 in the 20th over of the innings, McCullum launched an immediate counterattack in the lead-up to lunch. On resumption he stepped things up further in the company of a similarly fearless Corey Anderson, and spanked Josh Hazlewood over wide mid-off to reach his century in a mere 54 balls – two fewer than Viv Richards in 1986.
Most of Test cricket’s fastest hundreds have been compiled in circumstances that heavily favored the batsman. Not so this time, as McCullum and Anderson overcame the obstacles of a lively pitch, a dominant Australian attack and a day one scenario that would traditionally have called for dogged defence.
Josh Hazlewood, James Pattinson and Jackson Bird all bowled demanding spells with the new ball, but none were able to find an answer for McCullum’s assault. Vitally, an outstanding catch by Mitchell Marsh when McCullum had made 39 was rendered meaningless when the replay showed Pattinson had overstepped.
It would have been Australia’s third brilliant catch of the innings, after the captain Steven Smith had snared a pair of thrilling one-handed takes to dismiss Tom Latham and Kane Williamson. The second of these was made still more impressive by the fact Smith was partly obscured by a helmet-clad David Warner, posted at a short third slip close to the bat.
After useful innings by BJ Watling and Matt Henry, New Zealand were ultimately bowled out for 370, leaving Australia with about 80 minutes to bat in the evening session. The tourists’ over rate was less than optimal during the afternoon, something that may result in a fine for Smith, though more than 12 months after his previous transgression, against India in late 2014.
As was the case in Wellington, Smith had not hesitated in sending New Zealand in on a pitch even greener than that served up at the Basin Reserve. Hazlewood and Pattinson found extravagant seam movement immediately, leaving Martin Guptill and Latham groping for the new ball.
Guptill was particularly troubled by Pattinson deliveries that cut back into him, and an inside edge squeezed off the body presented a chance to the short leg, Joe Burns, who grassed it. Another opportunity was not long in coming, and this time Burns did well to propel himself forward for the catch.
A period of stalemate followed, as Williamson and Latham tried to dig in. There were multiple plays and misses, and pressure built through some diligent work by Hazlewood, Pattinson and Bird. Eventually, Bird gave Latham one to drive, and the batsman’s slightly hesitant movement drew an edge towards the slips. It was probably Adam Voges’ catch, but Smith removed all doubt by flinging himself brilliantly across for a one-handed classic.
Hazlewood had bowled beautifully without reward, but he now homed in on Nicholls, who had edged a ball going across him on day one in Wellington. This time Hazlewood seamed one back down the line, and pinned Nicholls in front of the off stump. Richard Kettleborough gave it out, and the batsman’s review only confirmed the fact.
Full report to follow…
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo