Massive challenge confronts Kiwis

Published: Sunday, November 28, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Adelaide:Skipper Stephen Fleming looks at the massive challenge confronting his New Zealand team in the second cricket Test against Australia here like a condemned man awaiting a trip to the gallows.

The straight-shooting Kiwi captain was his beleaguered side's big hope of getting them past the testing 376-run follow-on figure after Australia's massive first innings declaration of 575 for eight on Saturday.

He had a chanceless knock of 83 crafted out of 212 minutes but he acknowledged the excellent delivery by Australia's premier paceman Glenn McGrath, which got him shortly after lunch.

"I thought he bowled an excellent over and it was a genuine dismissal," he said.

"The concentration and everything was good up to then, but those things can happen. I'm not going to turn down a 100 every time but while I'm disappointed I don't think I can put more to it than that."

The Kiwis' other instrumental batsman Nathan Astle followed soon after for 52 in 133 minutes and with him went the tourists' last hopes of getting anywhere near the Australians' formidable total.

They fell away to be all out for 251, a deficit of 324 which was converted into a 381-run lead when counterpart Ricky Ponting decided not to enforce the follow-on and sent out his openers, Justin Langer (31) and Matthew Hayden (21) to plunder more runs off the docile Adelaide batting pitch up to stumps.

"The bottom line is we're being outplayed, we're being thumped," Fleming said.

"It's another disappointing day on this tour and they played extremely well. I thought the lengths they bowled today were outstanding and that's what we've come to expect, they've got the variation there with (spinner) Shane Warne and they're playing extremely good cricket."

Fleming expects things to pan out similar to last week's Gabba Test when the Australians surged to an innings and 156-run victory inside four days.

"They'll probably leave us about 800 and we'll try to knock them off in a couple of sessions," Fleming said with some dark humour.

"I guess they'll bat somewhere around lunch (on Monday) similar to the last Test when they batted until lunch the fourth day and then won the match that afternoon ... they'll probably look for something similar to that, but hopefully with not the same result."

Fleming had no qualms about 'walking' before he was given out by West Indian umpire Steve Bucknor for his team's crucial wicket.

"I felt it was pretty obvious so I certainly didn't hang around, I don't want to enter into the 'walk' debate, but I felt it was a pretty obvious noise in that situation," he said.

Fleming ranks as the greatest all-time New Zealand Test run-getter with 5,660 runs in his 89th Test ahead of Martin Crowe's 5,444 runs in 77 Tests.

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