Black Caps struggle against Aussie pace

2011-02-25 09:06

Nagpur, India – A fine bowling performance by Australia’s pace attack put the defending champions firmly in control against New Zealand today despite a battling fifty from Nathan McCullum.

New Zealand were in dire straits at 73 for six after their top-order wilted against Australia’s quicks, with left-armer Mitchell Johnson taking four wickets for 33 runs and Shaun Tait 3-35.

McCullum, with 52, and New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori, who struck 44, hit back with an eighth wicket stand of 54 before the Black Caps were bowled out with nearly five overs of the innings left.

Australia will expect to have few problems reaching 207 to win the Group A fixture at the VCA Ground as they bid for a 31st straight unbeaten match at the World Cup, a run dating back to 1999.

Jesse Ryder’s exit for 25 sparked a middle-order collapse that saw three wickets lost for one run as 66 for two became 67-5.

In a match played out against the backdrop of the devastating Christchurch earthquake, Australia captain Ricky Ponting won the toss and chose to field first in overcast conditions.

Tait, following the economical Brett Lee, was erratic but removed danger-man Brendon McCullum for 16 when an attempted carve over the covers flew straight to Jason Krejza at third man.

Ryder hit six forceful fours but in between his boundary hits, the Black Caps were hampered by a lack of singles.

Johnson struck twice in four balls in the 14th over to have Ryder and James Franklin (0) edging to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin as they both pushed limply at good length deliveries.

Tait then had Scott Styris caught behind for a duck and yorked Ross Taylor, who struggled to make seven off 22 balls.

Nathan McCullum milked rival spinners Krejza and Steven Smith – whose combined 18 overs yielded just one wicket for 91 runs.

And he completed a 72-ball fifty including three boundaries before he was lbw to Johnson for 52.

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