After all the build-up, a full bank before 10am, the tribute to Brendon McCullum and the most keenly observed National Anthem in cricket history New Zealand found themselves five wickets down just after what seemed like the first batting Powerplay.
A balloon had been pricked, and people were starting to wonder what they were going to be doing on Sunday.
You really should not lose five wickets in the first hour, regardless of how green the pitch looked. It was not a minefield. Latham was genuinely dismissed by a delivery that seamed just enough, but all the other batsmen had some hand in their demise. The biggest culprit was Williamson whose wafted drive seemed so out of character coming after some exquisite driving; albeit via an outstanding keeper’s catch.
To get to 183 from 51/5 is a reasonable effort, but even then you felt it could have been more. Watling got a decent ball, but there was a theme of losing wickets just as a fight back looked like forming. Anderson showed a lot of discipline in his two and a half hour stay, and it was a knock of someone fighting for his place in the team, but that unravelled when Lyon came on to bowl. The comedy value came from Trent Boult, playing his last test innings batting at number 11. There is something about that schoolboy glee of his when he hits a six
But when the biggest partnership in an innings is the last one you know there is something not quite right.
Three overs into the reply and New Zealand was right back in it. A couple of caught behinds; one from a feather down the leg-side and the other from a dire swish from Warner and Southee had his tail up.
In a list that is surprisingly tight at the top, c Watling b Southee is now third most prolific of combination dismissals for New Zealand.
This brought Steve Smith to the crease. A nervy, fidgeting, airy Steve Smith. He did get some decent shots away early, but there was a lot of edging it into the slips, wafting away outside the off stump and padding up to a straight one that was just going over. It was like he believed the pitch was going to get him in the end so he might as well get as many as he could.
Once he approached 50 that changed. He still fidgeted, but the shot selection improved and he actually looked in control. And then suddenly, he hit one back at Mark Craig, who took a much tougher catch than the one he had previously grassed off the same batsman. It was an interesting day for the recalled Craig. Good with the bat, mixed in the field, but the Australians could not get hold of his bowling as they wanted to. With a bit more luck he would have had Khawaja too.
It was clearly Australia’s day, and they should build a decent lead tomorrow. But New Zealand posted a similar score on the first day here two years ago against India, and that match had a few twists and turns to come.
If only the sole poor umpiring decision of the day had not involved incorrectly calling a no ball after 6pm. That would have been a bonus. But at least it keeps DRS, and its application, in the spotlight,