Australia carved out a thumping 10-wicket victory against host New Zealand in the Wellington Test to take an unassailable 1-0 lead in the two-game Test series on Tuesday.
Stand-in opener Phil Hughes scored a scorching 86 off 75 balls to help Australia reach the target of 106 in the 23rd over just before lunch. Called in at the last minute to replace Shane Watson, Huges hammered 12 boundaries and a six in his brisk knock. The other opener, Simon Katich was unbeaten on 18.
However, it was Australian vice-captain Michael Clarke who was adjudged man of the match for his magnificent innings of 168 in the first essay.
Host resumed the day’s proceedings on 369 for 6 and even a defiant century by Brendon McCullum (104), his fifth, couldn’t really help their cause. Their challenge lasted for 50 minutes when Chris Martin was bowled by Mitchell Johnson, ending the innings at 407.
McCullum’s innings delayed the inevitable but the end came at 104 when medium-pacer Ryan Harris induced an edge that was picked up by Michael Clarke at first slip in the fourth over of the day. The Kiwis lost their last four wickets for just 19 runs.
Set a meager target of 106, the Aussie openers chased it down before lunch. The Kiwis would have further delayed the result had they held their catches. Tim McIntosh dropped Hughes, on 48, at the second slip, which was a rather straightforward catch off Brent Arnel.
The tourists completely dominated the Test and lost only five wickets in the match, whereas New Zealand was bundled out for 157 in the first innings.
“We obviously need to lift a lot, particularly our first innings efforts. We fought hard in that second innings but we need to show more penetration with the ball in that first innings and stand up a bit more with the bat,” captain Daniel Vettori said.
Talking about the early declaration on day two at 459 for 5, captain Ricky Ponting said, “The declaration had a lot to do with what I knew about the weather coming. We could have batted on and got 600 but we would have been touch and go whether we would have got a result.”
“It’s all about giving us the best chance of winning, and we’ve done it really well. I was happy with the way the bowlers stuck at it, we’ve been in the field for four consecutive days now.”