New Zealand v Australia, 2nd Test, Day 1: Kiwis ride high on McCullum's record-breaking century
Kiwi cricket fans thronged the Hagley Oval to witness what was the first day of the last five days of their favourite hero, Brendon McCullum's international career. At the end of the first day, the fans would have thoroughly enjoyed the show put on by the New Zealand skipper as he powered his way to the fastest Test hundred giving the home side the upper hand.
This is only the second Test to held at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch, after the first Test was played against Sri Lanka in 2014. Like Sri Lanka did, in 2014, Australia also elected to field first. After the first 20 overs, it seemed like it was the perfect decision to bowl first on a green top as the home side were tottering at 32/3 in 19.4 overs.
But, then came the mercurial Kiwi skipper, Brendon McCullum, to play his last internationl match. McCullum, from the very first ball, went after the bowlers trying to send every ball to the boundary. At the other end, Kane Williamson was struggling and finally pushed at a ball and edged it to Steven Smith at second slip and was dismissed for 7 off 69 balls.
In the 42-run partnership between Williamson and McCullum, the skipper scored 37 of those runs, in just 18 balls. It was like McCullum was playing on a different pitch. McCullum, however, did get a respite as he was caught brilliantly by Mitchell Marsh in the slips, but it was off a no-ball by James Pattinson.
When Corey Anderson joined McCullum at the crease in the 27th over, the run rate was below 3 runs an over. However, the duo played some excellent counter-attacking cricket and piled misery on to the Australian bowlers as they scored 179 runs in 110 balls for the fifth wicket.
McCullum, who reached his half-century in 34 balls, scored the next 50 runs in just 20 balls to make history as the man who scored the fastest Test hundred. The NZ skipper broke the record that was previously held by Vivian Richards and Misbah-ul-Haq. Both batsmen had scored their century in 56 balls.
The 34-year-old hit 21 fours and six sixes on his way to a 79-ball 145. Anderson gave him able support as he scored a handy knock of 72 off 66 balls. Wicketkeeper-batsman, BJ Watling scored another useful innings of 58 and reached his 11th Test fifty to help his side reach a score of 370 at a run rate of 5.63 an over.
Nathan Lyon picked up three wickets for Australia, while Josh Hazlewood, James Pattinson and Jackson Bird picked up two wickets each.
Australia came back and batted for 20 overs and scored 57 runs with opener David Warner back in the hut after some good bowling by Trent Boult. Joe Burns and Usman Khawaja played out the remaining overs of the day and held fort for Australia as they trail the home side by 313 runs.
New Zealand will look to pick up early wickets on Day 2 and make best use of the conditions available while Australia will hope that their batsmen can weather the storm and match the score put up by the Kiwis.
Brief Scores: Australia 57/1, 20 overs (Burns 27*, Khawaja 18*; Boult 1/18) trail New Zealand 370/10, 65.4 overs (McCullum 145, Anderson 72, Watling 58; Lyon 3/61, Bird 2/66) by 313 runs.