Cricket: All square - last chance in Brisbane

By David Leggat

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Brothers David and Michael Hussey pulled Australia to a series-levelling six-wicket win over New Zealand and sent the Chappell Hadlee series to a decider at Brisbane on Friday.

Requiring 245 to win, Australia had 10 balls to spare after New Zealand's bowlers were unable to defend an inadequate total.

The Husseys added a run-a-ball 115 for the fourth wicket before David Hussey, his place on the line going into the match, was bowled for 79, 29 short of the winning mark.

Michael Hussey hit the winning runs, a six off Kyle Mills, finishing on 75.

For New Zealand, the critical moment came earlier when Michael Hussey, on 40, pulled Grant Elliott low to deep mid-wicket where Craig Cumming grassed the low chance.

Had it been caught New Zealand would have been right in the contest, with the key batsmen, captain Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke, already out and questions lingering over a dicey Australian middle order.

New Zealand were encouraged when Ponting played a wretched shot at Tim Southee which went straight up.

Then opener Brad Haddin's wicket was thrown away when David Hussey sold him dead on a second run. Haddin, sent back, had no chance.

At 101 for three it was wide open, but once the Husseys settled in and the test-playing brother had his reprieve, they pushed on relentlessly.

Having left out offspinner Jeetan Patel for Cumming to strengthen the batting, New Zealand had the bare five bowlers to rely on.

All needed to be bang on the job, but captain Dan Vettori, bowling with a minor hamstring twinge, went for 54 from his 10 overs and Southee and Iain O'Brien were also expensive.

New Zealand simply didn't have enough runs to get away with any bowler having an off night.

New Zealand went against type at the start of the match.

Win the toss, bowl first has become a familiar ODI refrain for New Zealand.

But having decided to shake things up by doing what Australia didn't expect, the batsmen failed to cash in, and had it not been for a strong contribution of 76 from 71 balls by in-form Ross Taylor, with late help from Kyle Mills, New Zealand would have been scratching to reach 220.

The first six wickets were all partially wrapped for Australia, with strokes ranging from ambitious to plain dumb.

The pitch held no demons - this is Adelaide, the perennial batsman's friend - and while Australia bowled with persistence, New Zealand's return was well short of what would have been sought.

The atmosphere at Adelaide Oval was subdued, the ground half full, hearts and minds on the tragedy of the Victorian bushfires.

New Zealand's players made a donation from their match fees - New Zealand Cricket contributed an undisclosed amount - and signed shirts for auction, and buckets taken around the 16,342 crowd, with other assorted takings on the day, raised over A$158,000.

Brendon McCullum's damaged right shoulder was deemed okay to play, but clearly he wasn't himself, battling 55 balls without a single boundary.

But from the time Martin Guptill carefully steered a Mitchell Johnson bouncer straight to the fielder at fine leg it was a collection of strokemaking cockups.

Peter Fulton, McCullum, Elliott - after again looking in good touch - Cumming and Neil Broom all at least partly contributed to their dismissals.

When Cumming departed for a six-ball duck to an awful shot, the innings was a rapidly deflating tyre, going nowhere fast. Cumming's 421 State Shield runs for Otago were all at No 4. While Taylor has a lock on that spot, Cumming is a top, rather than middle order batsman. He may have been better served going in at No 3, where Fulton is labouring.

Taylor maintained a fine run this year. He has scored 378 runs at 63 since the start of January.

SCOREBOARD

New Zealand
B McCullum b Clarke 33
M Guptill c Bracken b Johnson 45
P Fulton c Bracken b Hopes 5
R Taylor c Haddin b Johnson 76
G Elliott c D Hussey b Johnson 26
C Cumming c Johnson b Hopes 0
N Broom c Hopes b Hilfenhaus 11
K Mills b Bracken 23
D Vettori not out 6
T Southee not out 7

Extras (2lb, 10w) 12

Total (for 8 wkts, 50 overs) 244

Fall: 69 (Guptill), 83 (Fulton), 86 (McCullum), 141 (Elliott), 141 (Cumming), 173 (Broom), 226 (Taylor), 235 (Mills).

Bowling: N Bracken 10-0-51-1 (6w), B Hilfenhaus 10-0-56-1 (3w), M Johnson 10-0-51-3 (1w), J Hopes 10-1-37-2, M Clarke 8-0-23-1, C White 2-0-24-0.

Australia
B Haddin run out 43
M Clarke c Fulton b O'Brien 14
R Ponting c Guptill b Southee 15
D Hussey b O'Brien 79
M Hussey not out 75
C Ferguson not out 13
Extras (1lb, 6w, 1nb) 8

Total (for 4 wkts, 48.2 overs) 247

Fall: 29 (Clarke), 57 (Ponting), 101 (Haddin), 216 (D Hussey).

Bowling: K Mills 9.2-2-30-0 (1w), T Southee 10-0-61-1 (1w, 1nb), I O'Brien 10-0-54-2, D Vettori 10-0-54-0, G Elliott 9-0-47-0 (4w).

Result: Australia won by 6 wickets, five-match series level 2-2.

- NZ Herald

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