20 Nov 2008

Southee star for Black Caps at Gabba

9:16 pm on 20 November 2008

Underdogs New Zealand made the most of a minefield cricket pitch to take first-day honours at the Gabba on Thursday.

The Black Caps surprised Australia and a 12,500-strong Brisbane crowd on the opening day of the two-Test series to dismiss the home side for 214 and then go to stumps with seven runs on the board and no wickets lost.

Among an unheralded bowling attack, Tim Southee was the star for New Zealand as he made the early inroads after skipper Daniel Vettori won the toss and elected to bowl.

The teenager quickly rewarded him by reducing the world champions to 3-23 with the wickets of Matthew Hayden, Simon Katich and Ricky Ponting with his first 19 balls.

Southee, who finished with 4-63, was on a hat-trick when a rearing delivery had Ponting (4) caught high at second slip off a leading edge.

Batting saviour Michael Clarke survived the hat-trick ball and rode his luck early in a 216-ball stay which wasn't always pretty but significantly priceless for his side.

The Australian vice-captain was eventually clean bowled for 98 as he attempted to hit his way to a century with a big drive off a Jesse Ryder inswinger.

Playing a lone hand, Clarke was 80 not out when last man Stuart Clark joined him at the fall of the ninth wicket. The pair put on a valuable 31 runs to post a respectable total in treacherous batting conditions.

Aussies struggle with wicket

The Black Caps exploited an underprepared wicket after four days of rain plus an overnight storm, which damaged the stands and the centre-wicket area.

Eight of Australia's 10 wickets fell to edges behind the wicket as the batsmen struggled against the bounce and sideways movement.

Mike Hussey combined with Clarke for a face-saving 73-run stand, the biggest of the day, but he fell for 35 when he shouldered arms to a Chris Martin off-cutter and was trapped leg before.

Wayward star Andrew Symonds fought hard in his comeback for 26, which included three successive fours off Grant Elliott, before he edged Ian O'Brien behind.

The dismissal sparked a 5-51 collapse, with fellow all-rounder Shane Watson (6), Brad Haddin (6), Brett Lee (4) and Mitchell Johnson (5) all falling to edges.

The rain that lashed the ground in the early hours of the day saw Australia include all-rounder Watson in their XI for his seam bowling at the expense of unlucky off-spinner Jason Krejza.