Cricket: Black Caps outplayed and outranked

By Mark Geenty

The only way is up for incoming New Zealand cricket coach Andy Moles.

A battered and confidence-sapped New Zealand side limped away from the Adelaide Oval last night having lost the second test to Australia by an innings and 62 runs after being dismissed for 203 in their second innings in 74.1 overs.

The result, on a near-perfect Adelaide Oval batting strip, sealed a 2-0 series loss and consigned New Zealand to No 8 in the test world rankings, their lowest ranking, in coach John Bracewell's final match.

Their next opponents, the West Indies, who they play in a two-test series in Dunedin and Napier this month, will overtake them to seventh when the rankings are recalculated.

After the now familiar top-order collapse, New Zealand's only highlight yesterday was a late assault by vice-captain Brendon McCullum, who flayed an unbeaten 84 off 134 balls, including 14 fours and two sixes, to lift them from 105 for seven.

He had a memorable battle with Australian speedster Brett Lee, who cracked McCullum painful blows on the forearm and hand, before the New Zealander clouted him for consecutive sixes over square leg and cover-point.

But it only prolonged the inevitable as Lee and Mitchell Johnson removed Iain O'Brien and Chris Martin soon after tea on the fourth day.

Lee took his 10th five-wicket bag in test cricket, his five for 105 giving him nine wickets for the match, although Australian wicketkeeper Brad Haddin won the man-of-the-match for his innings of 169.

A weary New Zealand captain, Daniel Vettori, said the two-test series, which saw Ricky Ponting again hoist the Trans-Tasman Trophy, was a story of missed opportunities for his side.

"I was disappointed all the way through the test match," he said.

"On the first day, only scoring 270 on a great deck and the way Australia played yesterday (to score 535) really took the game a long way away

from us.

"We had high hopes batting through today, and maybe giving ourselves a chance tomorrow, but it wasn't to be.

"Australia won every critical moment in the two test matches. Yesterday we had that opportunity, we let it slip and Australia were the better side." New Zealand had a chance to apply pressure early on the third morning when paceman Martin reduced Australia to 247 for five, but Haddin survived several missed chances and with man-of-the-series Michael Clarke took command.

It was New Zealand's sixth heavy defeat to Australia in their last seven tests.

Yesterday the tourists resumed on 35 without loss, still 230 short of making Australia bat again, and it was carnage.

Lee charged in with the second new ball in a blistering first hour, taking four for 14 as New Zealand slumped to 63 for four.

After previous innings of 156, 177, and 270 in the series it was a chance for the batsmen to dig in on a friendly pitch, but their shot selection left the handful of New Zealand supporters at the ground shaking their heads.

Aaron Redmond and Jesse Ryder flayed in the air on the off-side, and Ross Taylor offered Lee a simple return catch off the leading edge.

Opener Jamie How was caught brilliantly by Ponting at slip for 28, and when Johnson beat Daniel Flynn and Peter Fulton for pace it was an embarrassing 84 for six.

McCullum played watchfully as Vettori and Tim Southee were both removed by spinner Nathan Hauritz, scoring his first 28 off 90 balls.

He then cut loose, cracking Lee for three consecutive boundaries and passing his previous best score against Australia of 36.

McCullum reached his 12th test half-century off 110 balls, and added 50 with a determined O'Brien, who dug in for 38 deliveries without scoring before he was unlucky to be adjudged leg before wicket to Lee off an inside edge.

- NZPA

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