And now let's get to the facts:
New Zealand's starting position. Needless to say that "1" stands for McIntosh.
Total of runs accumulated by the new man Sinclair. Let's get over with it. Because now it's Taylor and Watling at the crease.
Watling steps up, sort of. Great partner for blazing Taylor. He had been playing very carefully (13 of 56 balls) but when Taylor steamed in he naturally increased the pace to 46 from 102. His wicket meant the premature death of a valuable partnership.
Taylor's innings included the fastest test century ever scored by a New Zealandish batsman. I could write a novel about him, he is the sort of modern boom boom cricketer that sets the heart of his fans on fire, but requires several shockers in the field to get to a big score. That's also why I can't actually see him reach a double or triple in the near future. Another side effect of his batting style is that his presence at the crease tempts his partners, even the experienced ones, into throwing their brains at the fielders, which is known as the Afridi-Akmal-effect (AAE). That same factor will also turn him into a powerful and energetic leader one day, if he finds a way to prevent that simultaneous loss of good manners.
Guptill, Vettori, McCullum: the Ministry of Silly Walks. Victims of the AAE.
A small but nice Timmy Time! Tim is battling his way through this match and he would have loved to put some more runs on the board, had he not run out of partners. Unfair ending of a charming little tail wag. And didn't you love his wide gigglegrin after he had knocked that six off Johnson? :D
Number of test ducks scored by Chris Martin. Now having a closer look at his facial expression behind the grill I don't find his failure funny anymore. A man of his experience should be able to negotiate at least a handful of balls. But he seemed not to take his task seriously, in fact I think he has adopted his failure as a personal trademark and cultivates it in a clown-like manner in order to feed the mob. Needs to get smacked on the cheeks.
3 - 3 - 4
Bolly - Harris - Johnson.
Like brothers they share the spoils. A fantastic trio has arisen out of an injury-induced emergency situation. I think the bowling is stronger than in the last Ashes, and with Hilfy back the Oz selectors will face a real luxury problem. And should one of these three get injured there's still Klint who provides a neat and clean back up option.
Ahem. I would love to say now that we all fell victim to a mass hallucination but I'm afraid 25 really happened. What's even worse is that Ritz shares the throne with Andrew McDonald. Oh my. Got let down, though, by Mitch, who hasn't grasped yet where cool ends and sloppy begins. Ritz actually bowled well but had two shitty overs, one against Vettori and this abysmal one against Taylor.
Watto's economy of the 5 overs he's bowled. Worse than Ritz's. The entire first half of the match he seemed to have been switched off a little. I hope that absolute stunner of a boundary save was the opening gong to a great second half. He can't afford a form slump now with bloody Hughes in the neck.
Australia's starting position for the next day, Watto is already on 22, and I have the feeling he's gonna show his capabilities now.
Predictions? Australia will pull their socks up and if necessary sell their grandmothers to get past 300. There is plenty of time for them to approach the task with the required carefulness. Vettori and Southee will have to think up something special for today.