Monday, September 15, 2008

Gillespie and Patel bowl New Zealand A to victory

Police officers stand guard during the game between New Zealand A and Australia A.

A polished 75 from Peter Fulton and accurate bowling by Mark Gillespie and Jeetan Patel helped New Zealand A to a 129-run win over Australia A in game one of the Triangular Series in Hyderabad. A target of 236 seemed very achievable at the beginning of Australia's chase, given how they had curbed New Zealand's middle order after Fulton's dismissal, but the bowling and some reckless hitting led to their downfall.

Having opted to bat first, New Zealand's first ten overs yielded just 34 for the loss of Aaron Redmond, but Fulton and Mark Guptill accelerated thereafter. Fulton hit Peter Siddle for three consecutive boundaries in the 11th over. Guptill collected two sixes as well - New Zealand scored 43 runs in the second Powerplay - and took a liking to Shaun Tait. This was Tait's first competitive outing since his Ford Ranger Cup match against Victoria eight months ago but he was erratic and served up eight wides. Guptill fell to Xavier Doherty for 33 and, by this time, Fulton had eased to 60 from 68 balls, repeatedly piercing the gaps in the field.

It took a spectacular catch on the long-on boundary by Phil Hughes - catching the ball, then flipping it back in to the field as he lost balance over the rope and finally diving forward to hold on again - to cut short the dangerous James Marshall, and that cued a collapse. Doug Bollinger returned to dismiss Fulton for 75 and the runs dried up. Doherty struck twice in two overs to chip away at the lower order to finish with 4 for 34, and New Zealand had thrown away the platform provided by Fulton and Guptill.

However, a total of 235 for 9 proved way out of a poor Australia's reach. Mark Gillespie, the medium-pacer, removed Hughes in the opening over and added David Hussey - caught behind for 0 - in his second, though replays proved inconclusive. Luke Ronchi looked to have the measure of the new-ball attack, playing some confident shots, but fell lbw to Gillespie for 27.

Australia never recovered from those three strikes. Grant Elliott's spell from the 11th over yielded the crucial wickets of Marcus North and Adam Voges and thereon it was all downhill. Jeetan Patel, another bowler with international experience, didn't have do to much against the lower order and finished with 4 for 16.