Australia 72-0 chasing 241 to win 2nd test

Associated Press
New Zealand batsman Kane Williamson makes his way back to the pavilion after being caught by Ricky Ponting off the bowling of Peter Siddle during the third day of play in the second test match in Hobart, Australia, Sunday Dec. 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Chris Crerar)
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HOBART, Australia (AP) — Australia moved into a commanding position to win the second cricket test against New Zealand, with under-fire openers David Warner and Phillip Hughes sharing an unbroken 72-run stand Sunday before rain forced a premature close to the third day.

Peter Siddle and James Pattinson snared three wickets each with some good, sustained fast bowling to dismiss New Zealand for 226 moments before lunch, leaving Australia eight sessions to score the 241 runs required to clinch a 2-0 series win.

Warner struck eight boundaries and faced 50 balls for his unbeaten 47, while Hughes overcame some early nerves to remain not out 20 at the tea interval. The entire evening session was washed out due to rain.

Australia has never lost a test at Bellerive and is in a strong position to get the remaining 169 runs needed for victory, though some recent spectacular batting collapses will give New Zealand lingering hope of notching its first win in Australia since 1985.

Hughes needs a big innings to salvage his test career after a scoring 32 runs in his previous four innings. The 23-year-old lefthander survived a loud appeal for a legside caught behind from Chris Martin in the 3rd over before he'd scored, but umpires ruled it not out.

New Zealand skipper Ross Taylor opted against a review, a decision regretted after TV replays suggested the ball may have glanced Hughes' glove.

It was a handy reprieve for Hughes, allowing him to post his highest score of the series in a 64-ball innings. He has been caught behind the wicket 20 times in his past 30 innings — including his last three dismissals to Martin.

New Zealand coach John Wright said the Black Caps wouldn't dwell on the decision.

"The boys have obviously come off and looked at that footage and they are a little bit disappointed but that is the game of cricket," he said. "We've just got to move on."

The strong start by the openers came after Australia's bowlers had put the hosts back in control of the test match by dominating the first session, taking the final seven wickets for 87 runs.

After Pattinson (3-54) and Siddle (3-66) destroyed the top order, offspinner Nathan Lyon picked up 3-25 as the New Zealand lower order crumbled, with the last four wickets falling in six overs.

"We had destiny in our hands today. We knew what we had to do, and we came out and did exactly that," Australia wicketkeeper Brad Haddin said. "Our bowlers did a fantastic job to get us into the position we are now. And the batters just capitalized on some outstanding bowling.

"It's a very good base. The game is set up now for a result. We've just got to make sure we get the result in our favor."

Siddle started the demise on just the third ball of the morning, breaking a 66-run fourth-wicket partnership when he had Kane Williamson (34) caught at second slip by Ricky Ponting.

New Zealand skipper Ross Taylor (56) and Dean Brownlie (21) added 32 for the fifth wicket before Pattinson struck twice in back-to-back overs. Taylor, who was dropped on 14 and again on 48 — when Pattinson put down a sharp return chance — was finally out edging the 21-year-old paceman to Michael Clarke at slip.

Brownlie, who had been hit on the wrist by a sharply-rising bouncer from Mitchell Starc an over before, gloved a simple caught behind to Brad Haddin while trying to evade another short-pitched ball from Pattinson.

Siddle returned just before the scheduled lunch interval to trap Reece Young (9) lbw and trigger the late collapse. After getting clobbered for six and four on consecutive balls from Tim Southee, Lyon took two wickets in three balls as New Zealand slipped to 203-9.

Southee hit 13 from five deliveries before he holed out to Mike Hussey at long on. Lyon bowled Doug Bracewell (4) and then took the last wicket when Trent Boult, who struck 21 from 13 balls, was also caught in the outfield by Hussey.

New Zealand took a surprising 14-run first-innings lead after dismissing Australia for 136 on Saturday, when a green wicket and overcast conditions provided perfect conditions for the seam bowlers similar to the opening day when the New Zealand batsmen struggled against pace and swing.

The wicket had settled down by Sunday and New Zealand appeared set to build a decent lead before Taylor tried to drive at a full-length ball from Pattinson and got a thick edge to Clarke. His first half century of the series got the visitors out of trouble on the second day but he was unable to occupy the crease when New Zealand needed him most.

Perth-born Brownlie had defied the Australian attack while wickets fell around him in his first three innings this series, scoring an unbeaten 77 and 42 in the nine-wicket loss at Brisbane last week and 56 on Friday, but his dismissal exposed a long New Zealand tail.

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