At the close of day 3 at Jade Stadium, the match is very delicately balanced. Gilchirst once again pulled Australia out of the fire with the help of Simon Katich. I guess poor old Katich has sealed his own fate and can be expected to be dropped from the side for the next Test.
You may recall that Katich was unceremoniously dropped after his last Test century against India, in Sydney, where he played a big part in saving the Test, and that series (he also made 70 or 80 in the second innings). I’d like to say that Katich has repaid the selectors faith in him yesterday, but that is not the case. It’s more the other way around.
I don’t mean to bang a drum here but Katich’s treatment over the past 12 months has been shabby (of course, he was dropped after a successful tour of India where he played a crucial part in the wins in the first two Tests) and that sticks in my craw a little.
I felt very pleased for Katich (not to mention Australia) and surely he must be well on the way to cementing his place in the team.
Once again for Australia, it came down to the last roll of the dice, so to speak. Six wickets down, still 32 runs from avoiding the follow-on and facing batting last in the Test, Australia were in deep trouble. The Katich/Gillie partnership really was the final chance. And what a partnership, typical of a Gilchrist counter attack. Gilchrist raced to 50 from 52 calls and ultimately belted Vettori out of the attack (hitting him for 4 sixes), forcing NZ to take the new ball. The partnership ended at 212, just a handful of runs short of the Australian 7th wicket partnership (which coincidentally was made at this very ground by Doug Walters and Gus Gilmour).
With the departure of Gillie and then Katich in quick succession, it was all over pretty quickly for Australia and they finished just one run behind. On balance, you would still assess that New Zealand held the upper hand, with Australia having to bat last. But New Zealand has had a habit over the past 24 months of crumbling in their second innings, even (or is that especially?) after being in a strong position at the halfway point of a match.