Cricket: Black Caps in front

By David Leggat

Kane Williamson of New Zealand plays a shot during day two. Photo / Getty Images
Kane Williamson of New Zealand plays a shot during day two. Photo / Getty Images

Those writing New Zealand off after the opening day of the second test in Hobart, might want to hold all bets.

The tourists are right in the hunt against Australia, after a second day of tumbling wickets and ball dominating bat at Bellerive Oval.

The chances of this test lasting four complete days are remote let alone the allotted five.

New Zealand, having established a 14-run first innings lead with a fine collective display of seam bowling, will start the third day at 139 for three, holding an overall advantage of 153.

Captain Ross Taylor, having been dropped on 14 by the under-fire Phil Hughes at gully, had reached 42, while Kane Williamson, surviving a tight lbw appeal in the day's penultimate over, was on 34 and looking impressive.

New Zealand would have been better placed had lefthander Jesse Ryder, promoted back to No 3 for this test, not played a daft shot at part-time medium pacer Mike Hussey to be stumped down the legside by Brad Haddin at 16, leaving his side in trouble at 61 for three, but the unbroken stand is now worth a precious 78.

Earlier the seam-friendly pitch worked in New Zealand's favour as they rolled Australia for 136, their third lowest total against their transtasman rivals, and lowest on home soil.

New Zealand's seamers, led by birthday boy Chris Martin, 37 today, steadily worked their way through the Australian lineup.

At one point it looked a decent chance they would be dismissed below 100 for the first time against New Zealand.

Instead a 56-run stand between bowlers Peter Siddle and James Pattinson at least got Australia close to New Zealand's score.

Martin removed lefthanders David Warner and Usman Khawaja early on en route to three for 28; Tim Southee had local hero Ricky Ponting lbw for five; left armer Trent Boult on debut had Hussey caught behind.

Doug Bracewell did his part in keeping things tight, and, along with Boult and Martin was rewarded with three wickets.

It was an impressive effort which kept New Zealand firmly in the contest after a grim opening day in which the damp, green pitch had the batsmen jumping through hoops just to survive.

"It's one for the bowlers today," Martin said.

"It's just a tough ask for any top order batsman to feel 'in'.

"If you look around the world there's not too much variety in pitches. I've toured places like India and the sub-continent and they're really long, tough days, with plenty of runs.

"But a day's test cricket like that definitely makes people watch".

Just how many New Zealand need to get ahead to feel they can have Australia on the run is hard to fathom.

"Now 150 on that pitch on the first day has turned out to be a reasonable score," Martin said.

"It's a tough picture to paint, how the rest of the test is going to go.

"But we're feeling good at 150 in front."

Martin spoke of what it would mean for New Zealand to achieve just their third win in 28 tests in Australia.

"For us to bounce back after the way we played in Brisbane (beaten by nine wickets) would be massive.

"That's been the key focus for us to show we are not as poor as we looked in Brisbane.

"We've done some hard work and I suppose it's one-day all at this stage. There's a lot of cricket left."

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