Ricky Ponting, searching for an elusive century to save his Test career, led an Australian fightback on the second day of the first Test against New Zealand at the Gabba on Friday.
Ponting, without a century in his previous 28 Test innings and under pressure to keep his place, survived a few close calls to have Australia in good shape at 154 for three in reply to New Zealand’s 295 at stumps.
The former skipper, whose last big innings was 209 against Pakistan in Hobart in January last year, was unbeaten on 67 with his successor Michael Clarke not out 28.
Ponting narrowly avoided being run out before he had scored when Brendon McCullum’s throw just missed the stumps at the non-striker’s end and he also survived a video referee’s referral for lbw on 63.
Ponting, who turns 37 later this month, unfurled some of his classic drives and pulls among his 11 boundaries to look back in scoring nick.
Clarke on 23 had a huge slice of luck when in the 42nd over he played Doug Bracewell on to his stumps only for Pakistan umpire Asad Rauf to check for a no-ball.
Replays showed that Bracewell had overstepped the popping crease giving the Aussie skipper a reprieve.
Ponting and Clarke’s unbroken 63-run stand rescued the home side after the loss of David Warner (3), Phil Hughes (10) and Usman Khawaja (38) for 91 runs.
Twenty20 specialist Warner’s Test innings debut lasted just three balls before he was out in the over before lunch when he failed to get out of the way from a superb lifting Tim Southee delivery and was caught off the gloves by wicketkeeper Reece Young.
Hughes was out to a great diving catch by Martin Guptill in the gully off Chris Martin in the seventh over and Khawaja again failed to go on after a start when he was run out on the first ball after tea.
Ponting attempted a risky run to the leg side and Kane Williamson swooped in from midwicket and hit the stumps easily beating Khawaja’s dive.
New Zealand added 121 runs for their last five wickets from an overnight 176 for five with Dean Brownlie, dropped twice when he was on three, remaining unbeaten on 77.
Vettori was in sight of his first Test century against Australia when he inexplicably set off for a quick run to mid-off only for Mike Hussey to run him out with a direct throw at the bowler’s end.
Vettori, who came to the crease with the Black Caps tottering at 96 for five just after lunch on Thursday, lay prone in disappointment as he sprawled to make his ground and was out for 96 in just over three hours with 10 boundaries.
He put on a Gabba record sixth-wicket stand for New Zealand of 158 with Brownlie, eclipsing the previous best of 95 between Nathan Astle and Chris Cairns at the ground in 2001.
Young was out for two in the next over by Peter Siddle, edging to Clarke at first slip, who this time comfortably accepted the chance after botching a similar effort when Brownlie was on three on Thursday.
Off-spinner Nathan Lyon wrapped up the New Zealand innings with the wickets of Doug Bracewell (0), Tim Southee (17) and Chris Martin (1) to finish with four for 69 off 21.5 overs.
Australian-born Brownlie batted for 249 minutes and faced 175 balls for his 77. — AFP